YOUTH IN REVOLT
Starring Michael Cera, Steve Buscemi
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Youth in Revolt owes a lot to ’80s teen sex comedies, but the fresh twist here is that the teens are articulate, intelligent, and afflicted with high-brow quirks. Cue Michael Cera, who until now has been reliable but unchallenged playing variations on the same character from Superbad to Juno.
Loosely based on the 1993 self-published novel-turned-cult-favourite by C. D. Payne, Revolt is an unwieldy octopus of a film dabbling in multiple genres: coming-of-age, slapstick, art-house, and black comedy, to name but a few. Nick Twisp (Cera) is a 16-year-old virgin and aspiring writer with a penchant for Frank Sinatra and Fellini. His parents, Estelle (Jean Smart) and George (Steve Buscemi), are fuck-ups, but that doesn’t prevent them from constantly hooking up with others while Nick watches incredulously from the sexless sidelines. Everything changes, however, when the awkward hero meets his soul mate, Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), at a trailer park.
His desires thwarted by disapproving parents, distance, and Sheeni’s golden boy of an ex, Nick explores his bad side to secure Sheeni’s affections. He manifests a rebellious alter ego, Francois Dillinger (also Cera), and ‘together’ they commit a variety of crimes, including arson, car theft, and the botching of a fake suicide.
Cera is utterly charming as Francois, wholly inhabiting the character’s wispy mustache and confident swagger. He’s finally found a role that reveals another dimension to his comedic talent, while still making use of his trademark Cera-ness (an adorable old man trapped in a gangly, awkward body). He helps Revolt rise up from merely mediocre to genuinely entertaining. ★★★—Andrea Warner