Starring Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday. Rated 14A.
Michael Cera, the official cool nerd of this now-decayed decade, hasn’t been asked to show a lot of range so far. It’s fun, consequently, to see him literally play against himself in Youth in Revolt, an ironically titled ode to the self-romanticizing nature of late adolescence.
Watch the trailer for Youth in Revolt.
The revolting youngster in question is Cera’s Nick Twisp (again with the Nick name?), a put-upon California high schooler yearning for bigger things, like leaving home, becoming a great writer, and—what was that other thing?—oh, yeah: getting laid.
Like Jesse Eisenberg’s Italianate teen in Adventureland, which this film closely resembles, Nick is an introverted highbrow living with no-brow parents (Jean Smart and Steve Buscemi) in reduced circumstances. The parents are divorced, and his mom’s lousy boyfriends (Ray Liotta, Zach Galifianakis) are part of his torture, but also his salvation, because a lame family vacation at a Christian trailer park leads sullen Nick to the girl of his wet dreams.
Let’s face it, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) is the stuff of every brain boy’s idea of perfect: a cynical, golden-haired beauty who could be a cheerleader but goes for French cinema instead. Trouble is, just like the dumb chicks, she prefers naughty to nice, and Nick has to dig pretty hard to find his inner Jean-Paul Belmondo. This materializes, likewise in Cera’s form, as an actual, Gitanes-puffing Frenchman who guides our hero through his journey into insouciant superbadness.
On-screen, the device doesn’t always work, and there are some other bumpy bits—like, ahem, trying to pass off rural Michigan as the Bay Area. But working from Gustin Nash’s witty adaptation of the hip C. D. Payne novel, director Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl, Six Feet Under) brings so much imagination and gusto to the project that his movie makes you want to run out and cause trouble. Politely, of course, and with an accent.