Friday, October 22, 2010

Short Review: Youth in Revolt (Miguel Arteta, 2010)

Fans of Michael Cera and the hipster coming-to-maturity comedy will love this adaptation of C.D Payne's novel of the same name. Cera revels in playing a geeky social outcast, but this role allowed him to stretch out beyond his usual confines. Cera plays 16-year-old Nick Twisp, an outcast of his generation, who loves Frank Sinatra and the films of Fellini, and as he confesses through voice over, is a virgin. He lives with his mother and her dim-witted boyfriend. Convinced he has no life he accompanies them on vacation to a caravan park, where he meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), a pretty intellectual who shares many of Nick's odd qualities and really gets who he is. Naturally, he falls in love with her and vows to find a way to move closer to her. He enlists the help of his alter-ego, Francois Dillinger (also Cera), to assist him in his revolt against both himself and all those around him, and ultimately be with Sheeni forever. But a string of bad luck, and some chaotic circumstances hinder his plans and he ends up being a hunted arsonist on the run from the authorities, which ultimately threatens his future with Sheeni.
The sequences with Dillinger are certainly the film's best and this was Cera's chance to rebel against type, and he nails it. Portia Doubleday is also a revelation as the girl of his dreams. There are also some great supports, notably Steve Buscemi (as Nick's father) and Justin Long (as Sheeni's stoner brother). At just 89 minutes, the plot feels really episodic and lacks depth, falling victim to convenience a bit too often. I also felt it tried a bit too hard to be quirky at times, with the animation sequences and all, but it's consistently amusing. Filled with outrageous sequences, it's irreverent, heartfelt and somewhat unsatisfying, but as an adorable study of teen angst, it was enjoyable.

My Rating: 3 Stars

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