Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Youth in Revolt


Review by Mark David Campbell

There will come a time when Michael Cera can no longer played a wide-eyed, innocent teen, whose mission in life is three letters long (you’ve seen Juno and Superbad, figure it out).  But that time is not today.  Granted, he’s quite good at it, but maybe it’s time to see a different side of him.  Oh, wait, we get that in this film too.

Cera plays Nick Twisp, a typical sex-obsessed teen and a semi-talented writer, who lives at home with his white-trash mom (Jean Smart) – who sustains herself on child-support payments from her ex-husband (Steve Buscemi), as well as any guy who shacks up with her, including the slovenly Jerry (The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis).  At a local trailer park, Nick meets – and is instantly smitten with – a girl named Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), who has an endearing personality… and a boyfriend.  Oops.

However, Sheeni seems to be one of those many, many girls who are only attracted to “bad” boys, so Nick decides to invent an alter ego named Francois Dillinger (also played by Cera, unseen to all but him), who is Nick’s opposite; he smokes, speaks better English, and, to punctuate his bad-ass-ness, has a pencil-thin mustache.  Francois then proceeds to get Nick in all kinds of trouble, to the point where Nick comes a fugitive from justice.

The supporting cast is really quite good, including Justin Long as Sheeni’s druggie brother, Fred Willard as a neighbor and Ray Liotta as Lance, a cop who is also dating Nick’s mother.  However, the film relies on its two leads to carry it, and carry it they do.  To her credit for someone with so little acting experience, Doubleday plays Sheeni with a lot of appeal, charm and intelligence (in other words, not just a pretty face).  Baby-faced Cera, still in his element, delivers again, convincingly portraying two opposite halves of his psyche with aplomb.

Someday Cera will be too old to play this kind of role.  But that day is not today.  And Youth in Revolt is a better film for it.

3 ½ / 5 stars

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