Michael Cera could write a book on how to play a shy, socially-awkward geek with the number of times he’s played the part in his acting career. He’d be an easy pick for someone who had to name an actor who’s been typecast as a person who can only play the nerdy underdog, and with a demeanor that resembles said typecast, it’s hard to picture him as anything else. But then a film like Youth in Revolt comes around and he takes those thoughts and puts them into a car with all his clothes and drives them off a cliff.
In Youth in Revolt, Cera plays Nick Twisp, an awkward, geeky teen who wants nothing more than to lose his virginity and it all seems like another day at the office for Cera. Twisp’s mother and father, Estelle (Jean Smart) and George (Steve Buscemi), are divorced and living separately though not alone. Estelle is kept company by a useless deadbeat named Jerry (Zach Galifianakis) while his father shares a home with a hot, young twenty-something. While Nick lives with his mom, neither really care what he’s doing so long as it doesn’t inconvenience them. When a bad business deal causes Jerry to have to leave town for a bit. Estelle and Nick join him on a trip to his friend’s “cabin,” in reality a double wide in a trailer park.
It’s here where Nick meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), the girl of his dreams. Nick manages to work up the nerve to ask Sheeni to the beach and she accepts, much to Nick’s surprise. Sheeni has a boyfriend, however, and he’s basically everything Nick isn’t. She doesn’t do this in a mean way, in fact, it’s done in a way that wouldn’t actually happen in an actual conversation. You see, in Youth in Revolt, the dialogue is in its own world. These teenagers speak at times as though their words are poetry, sounding as though they’re reading from a written play instead of speaking naturally. While it may distract some, I didn’t find that it took away from the film, and instead, felt that it was an attempt to make the teens seem more adult – even though adults don’t talk like these characters do either.
Nick continues to pursue Sheeni and is so set on her being the one for him that his mind actually splits into two separate entities in order to figure out a way to make Sheeni his once and for all. On one side, there’s the shy, nerdy Nick that first caught the eye of Sheeni but wasn’t bold enough to close the deal. On the other side there’s Francois Dillinger, Nick’s interpretation of himself embodying everything that Sheeni desires. Francois Dillinger is also played by Cera in blue contacts with dark circles around his eyes, complete with a cigarette and a small mustache. He’s the rebellious version of Nick’s mind that is not afraid to get his hands dirty and say it like it is.
The two offer up some pretty humorous situations together, as the interaction between Nick and Francois is very well done. Francois will pop up at the most opportune time, sometimes even catching Nick off guard. While Nick is obviously doing everything himself, it’s fun to watch Francois being evil and conniving while Nick opposes and tries to stop him. It’s during these times that we see that Cera can play a tough guy even if it is only against himself.
As things get more chaotic for Nick the entertainment value of the film rises. Unfortunately the pacing can be somewhat slow at times and thus just when things seem to get going they can quickly fall flat the next moment. Even so, Cera plays his part(s) well and carries the entire film while the rest of the cast do a solid job in their roles. Sheeni isn’t your average dream girl, as some may downright dislike her attitude and how she treats Nick, but Doubleday does do a good job with what she’s given, and the two somehow look right together, which always helps. Justin Long also has a small role in the film as Sheeni’s brother Paul. Some of the funnier scenes in the film include him as his comedic star continues to rise.
With all the positive talk, however, there’s just something about Youth in Revolt that holds it back. It isn’t an overly memorable film, with no real lines that stand out, or scenes you’ll be telling your friends about. At the same those who can stand the dialogue, and inane situations Nick gets himself into will find themselves entertained for the duration of the film. Even still, those same people will likely have trouble remembering just what it was they liked about the film once it’s over. It’s one of those movies that is enough of what you‘re looking for while you‘re watching, but is easily forgotten once it’s over.
The film is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, and there are no real complaints to be had. The transfer is solid, and the colouring, and lights and darks all look good. The same can be said for the audio, presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, as there are no distractions to be had on that front, and overall, receive a passing grade.
There’s a Commentary with Director Miguel Arteta and Cera.
Deleted Scenes – Nine deleted scenes are to be found here with none really adding anything to the film. They are entertaining enough if you’re a fan of the film and want to see more.
Audition Footage – It’s sometimes fun to watch actors try out for the roles. Sometimes it’s funnier when it’s watching a major star like Harrison Ford try out for Han Solo, giving a perspective on how someone who is a superstar had to actually audition for roles before fame. I guess if any of these stars turn into another Ford in the future we can look back at these and have a chuckle but something tells me that’s unlikely.
There are also trailers for other films to be found as well.
Youth In Revolt is an entertaining film with enough shortcomings to make it not stand out in a memorable comedy line-up. Michael Cera fans will definitely want to check this out, as it’s some of his best work to date, and those who are in the mood for something different and know what they’re getting into will likely enjoy themselves enough to warrant a rental.
Dimension Films Youth in Revolt. Starring: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Justin Long. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 15, 2010.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.