Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Youth in Revolt

Year: 2009
Director: Miguel Artega
Screenplay: Gustin Nash, based on the novel Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp by C.D. Payne
Starring: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Zack Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Adhir Kalyan
Running Time: 89 minutes
Genre: Comedy, coming-of-age

Summary: Oakland, California: Nick Twisp (Cera) is a likeable, intelligent, geeky teenager who enjoys arthouse movies and has no luck with girls. He lives with his divorced mother, Estelle (Smart), and her deadbeat boyfriend, Jerry (Galifianakis). When the family are forced to move to a trailer park in a small town to escape some sailors who Jerry owes money to, Nick meets and falls madly in love with Sheeni Saunders (Doubleday), anh intelligent and unconventional teenager who loves all things French and is convinced that she will one day marry a glamorous French man named Francois. However, to be with Sheeni, Nick has to contend with her strongly religious parents (Place and M. Emmett Walsh), Sheeni's seemingly perfect boyfriend, Trent (Jonathan Bradford Wright), and the fact that Nick's mother wants to take him back to Oakland.
Sheeni promises to set up a job nearby for Nick's father, George (Buscemi), if Nick can get kicked out of his mother's house so he can live with his father near Sheeni. The problem is that Nick has spent his entire life being good and well-behaved and he doesn't know how to bad and reckless and so he creates an alternate persona for himself called Francois Dillinger (Cera again) who has a mustache, smokes and has an almost sociopathic personality. However, Nick finds it increasingly difficult to control Francois, and the course of True Love never runs smoothly.

Opinions: This movie is very much a quirky, semi-indie teen comedy, starring the undisputed king of quirky, semi-indie teen comedies, Michael Cera. Here he is once again cast as a quiet likeable nerd, the kind of role that he always plays well, but here there is an added bonus as he also plays the self-centered, charismatic, calm, but menacing Francois. The rest of the cast do well especially Portia Doubleday in her first major role as Sheeni, whom she makes pretentious, enigmatic and engaging. However, aside from Cera and Doubleday, none of the rest of the cast really have much time to make much of an impression, coming on and off stage like a series of extended cameos. By the way, Rooney Mara, who is soon to appear in the title role in David Fincher's film of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has a brief appearance as Sheeni's schoolfriend.
The movie is very stylised, including a couple of animation sequences, and initially I found the relentless quirkiness quite annoying, but after awhile I got used to the style and the movie won me over. It's no classic, but it is entertaining and amusing, with enough surprises and sharp gags to keep the interest.

Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday discuss Youth in Revolt

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