Review: Youth in Revolt

Youth in Revolt | Miguel Arteta, 2010

In Youth in Revolt, Michael Cera plays Nick Twisp, a character like every other he has played in the last few years. He’s nice, lives by the rules, quirky, etc. Here, he lives with his mom (Jean Smart) who is dating a trashy younger man (Zack Galafianakis). Obviously he is not happy with this. His dad (Steve Buscemi) is also dating a younger woman (Ari Graynor, who looks a lot like Monica Vitti and that alone makes her alright in my book). One day, after his mom’s boyfriend gets in trouble with some Navy guys, they are forced to hide in a trailer by a lake. There he meets Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), a girl obsessed with French stuff and a film lover, and he falls for her. She likes him too, but she has a boyfriend, who seems to be the perfect man. To win her over, he decides to create a new personality in the shape of Francois, who is everything that Nick would not dare to be. One day, while trying to get kicked out of his mom’s home to move with his dad so that he can be closer to Sheeni, he causes a five-million dollar fire, so he has to hide. And so, his attempt to get together with Sheeni gets more difficult and he must do everything he can to get her.

I certainly wasn’t expecting much from this movie. I thought it was going to be just another one of those pretentious/hipster movies that have come out since Juno. Sure, there are some aspects of that such as the soundtrack and the unnecessary animation, but everything else is rather fantastic. First off, there is the cast. Besides those that I’ve already mention we see Ray Liotta, Fred Willard, and Justin Long and all of them do their best in their role, even if they are not very demanding. But the true stand out is Cera, who surprisingly excels at playing both different personalities.

Then there is the script and the direction. The script, based on a novel, is actually much braver than I thought it would be. The ending could have been sugar coated, but no, everyone gets what they deserve, and the ending is not as happy as we have come to expect. Sure, there are your usual “teen movie” clichés, but I did not find them distracting here. And the direction fits the story just fine. With the exception of the animation, it is not flashy and goes straight to the point, which is what a movie like this needs.

I found Youth in Revolt to be quite refreshing, and it is one of the few movies that I’ve seen this year that are actually fun. So, yeah, don’t let the box office numbers fool you, this is definitely worth watching

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