Michael Cera has made a considerable living over the past few years by playing lonely introverts entranced by the idea of relationships, more importantly sex. For the first half of Youth in Revolt, it’s business-as-usual for the actor he drops hip dialogue with his signature dry delivery. It’s funny, but the movie doesn’t really kick into high gear until Cera’s character’s rebellious alter-ego makes his appearance. This is one of those movies that’s way better than you’re expecting.
In the film Cera plays Nick Twisp, a quiet teenage recluse whose sole goal in life is to have sex. The conditions aren’t good. His mom (Smart) is involved in constant fly-by-night relationships after her divorce, his best friend (Knudsen) is miserable, and his father (Steve Buscemi) is dating a hot blonde and couldn’t care less about him. While taking a trip with his mom and her flavor of the week, Jerry (Galifianakis), Nick meets Sheeni (Doubleday), a feisty young girl who shares many of his same interests. The two have a summer fling but Nick learns that Sheeni has a boyfriend. Feeling threatened, Nick concocts a badass alter-ego named Francois Dillinger (Cera, also), whose no-nonsense attitude will help him win Sheeni for good.
Screenwriter Gustin Nash, working from the novel by C.D. Payne, keeps the laughs coming at a good clip. It’s Cera’s show through and though, and it’s nice to see him branch out a bit and take on a suave French alter-ego. The scenes where both Cera characters interact are the film’s best, particularly a scene where the two wind up blowing up a good portion of a city block. Miguel Arteta’s direction is effective and the film looks great. Unlike many movies of late, Youth in Revolt manages to not overstay its welcome at a brisk 90 minutes.
Cera is superb, but the breakout talent to look for is Portia Doubleday as the irresistible Sheeni Saunders. This is only Doubleday’s third feature performance, but she’s a born actress and perfect for this quirky part. Her dialogue delivery is a perfect counter to Cera’s and the two have some real chemistry. The film boasts a very solid supporting cast, headed by Jean Smart as Nick’s mother. Familiar faces such as Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, and Justin Long also turn up in entertaining roles.
2010 is off to a decent start here. Though the film loses some steam in its final twenty minutes, overall it’s a very solid effort and a must-see for fans of Cera. This is a comedy that reaches back to some of the best of 80’s for inspiration all the while creating a place of its own. It has a good heart, is well-made, and will definitely get the job done as a savior from the January doldrums that are bound to surface in the coming weeks.
Studio: Dimension Films
Length: 90 Minutes
Rating: R for sexual content, language and drug use.
Theatrical Release: January 8, 2010
Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Written by: Gustin Nash. Based upon the novel by C.D. Payne.
Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Erik Knudsen