Some films are a powerful maelstrom of deep varying emotions – making you laugh out loud, gasp in fear, weep deeply or shudder, all in quick succession. Youth In Revolt is not one of these films. I spent most of the duration smiling with a bemused look on my face. Big laugh-out-loud moments are scarce. However, that’s not to say that the film was not humorous. It was. The humour was just refrained and subtle – relying more on its actors than on cheap comic gags. It is a refreshing change from typical American comedy. A lot of this could be credited to the star of the film, Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad).
Michael Cera (as usual) plays himself. This time his character is called Nick Twisp, “a unique, but affable teen with a taste for the finer things in life”. This translates that he listens to Sinatra, watches films by Fellini and is on the whole rather intelligent and cultured. He is also, unsurprisingly, utterly hopeless with girls. That is, until he goes on a family vacation and falls in love with Sheeni Saunders, a free-spirited, confident, enchanting Francophile played by newcomer Portia Doubleday. Sheeni encourages Nick to be more rebellious, causing him to create an alter ego – the confident, risqué, rebellious Francois Dillinger (complete with cliché moustache and cigarette). This leads to a significant amount of rather “Fight Club”-esque sequences (minus the ignorance of what’s occurring).
Cera acts with his usual dorky, awkward yet utterly relatable charm. He is undoubtedly perfect for his role. Were the film not based on a book with the same name by C.D. Payne, I would suspect that the part had been written with Cera in mind. The character portrayals are unanimously convincing and real, and all the roles in the film have been expertly cast. Steve Buscemi and Jean Smart play Nick Twisp’s divorced parents. Smart in particular is superb as Estelle Twisp, the single mother who seems to care more about ensuring she has a man in her life than about her son. Sheeni’s hardcore evangelical Christian parents are played by Justin Long and Mary Kay Place, whilst other notable cast members include Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) and Ray Liotta (Goodfellas).
On the whole, there is something undeniably human about Youth In Revolt. It embraces the zaniness and quirks of us mortals, adolescents in particular. I believe it’s safe to say that if you like Cera and you like the films he stars in (particularly Juno), then you will like this film. A lot. Otherwise, I’d say it depends on your experiences as a teenager and thus how well you relate to it. If you’ve experienced adolescent love, wished you were more of a rebel or had particular difficulty losing your virginity then this film could provide comfort for you. But if you’re looking for cheap laughs or a quick thrill I would recommend that you look elsewhere.
I definitely intend to read the book.