Youth in Revolt not so revolutionary
Youth in Revolt might not be in 3D, the cast might not be filled with the biggest stars in Hollywood and it might not be playing at all the huge multiplexes in your town, but it’s sure to draw in a few Michael Cera fans looking for a Juno-like comedy with a quirky indie feel.
The film, adapted from C.D. Payne’s Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp, stars Cera as a teenage nerd who falls hard for smart and mature Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) and invents a bad-boy alter ego, François Dillinger, in a plot to lose his virginity to Sheeni. Cera plays both Nick and François with the only real differences between the two being blue contacts and a barely-there moustache.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Cera, but he always seems to play the same lovable nerd who eventually ends up with the girl when she realizes the hot arrogant guy isn’t right for her. Thankfully, the character of François changes up that formula with over-the-top rebellious crimes and an overall disappointment in his other self. He’s exactly the kind of hero a nerdy teenager would invent for himself, puffing on a cigarette and tossing a slick comment at his female target, and Cera manages to play him simultaneously campy and with his own trademark brand of subtlety. My only gripe with the character is that he is introduced too late and would have been able to hold audiences better if he’d entered the plot sooner.
While Cera manages to entertain as François, the rest of the brilliantly funny cast seems underutilized. Zach Galifianakis, one of the best comedians of our time, plays Nick’s mom’s boyfriend, but is only in a few scenes and doesn’t get the chance to unleash his hilarious brand of weirdness. Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, and Justin Long are equally underutilized in their small roles, though they do bring comedy in the few scenes they are in.
Youth in Revolt is sure to appeal to the Juno crowd—which probably had a lot to do with why Cera got the lead role in the first place—because it feels like a slightly better version of other “quirky teen indies”. Not loading it up with heartthrob megastars lends believability, allowing audiences to get more into the characters, and there’s really no question that Cera makes a great loveable geek. Still, with the indie music overpowering the background, this one can feel a bit like those “factory-made indies” that are basically just big studio movies with a lower budget.
Youth in Revolt is worth seeing, but if you’re going to make the trip to the movie theater, you’re better off waiting in the enormous line for Avatar because this one could just as easily wait for DVD.