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Hal MacDermot [Celluloid 10.26.09] movie review comedy



Year: 2009
Directors: Miguel Arteta
Writers: Gustin Nash & C.D. Payne (novel)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Hal MacDermot
Rating: 7.8 out of 10

Youth is Revolt is the screen adaptation of C.D. Payne’s cult book series charting the progress of the awkward, sex obsessed, super smart teen that is Nick Twisp. Michael Cera is made to inhabit this deadpan absurdist comedy world, a place where the teens are way more intelligent than the adults. It’s not an original take on life, but it’s probably how most teens think, so “whatever.” The strong supporting cast includes Steve Buscemi as Dad, and Zach Galifianakis as Jerry, one of his Mum’s pig boyfriends. Gustin Nash’s script feels slightly jerky, but suspending disbelief when you are laughing is usually easy.


Nick Twisp believes everyone is getting more sex than him, and he’s probably right. His separated parents certainly are. Buscemi is banging half-his-age-hottie Ari Graynor, and his ageing Mom, played by Jean Smart, is trying her not-very-good-luck on with first with Zach, and then Ray Liotta, who was perfect in the role of asshole cop boyfriend. Nick’s luck begins to change when he goes on a holiday to a Christian themed trailer park in Ukiah, northern California, and meets the beautiful, sexually liberated and Francophile Sheni . This is Portia Doubleday’s first big role, and she holds her own. Her character becomes too passive in the second half of the film, but that’s due to the writing, not the acting.

As Nick and Sheeni fall in love, the Gods of love and drama conspire against them. Nick has to leave the trailer park, and from that moment on, parents, authorities, fate and just about everything else, all do their very best to prevent the young lovers from being together. Encouraged by Sheeni, Nick plans to behave so badly that his mum will throw him out of the house, and he can then go stay with his dad, whom the Plot will find a job for back in Ukiah. Cue Nick’s imaginary alter-ego, who appears on screen as the rakish, cigarette smoking and trouble-making Francois Dillinger (also played by Michael Cera). The scenes with Francois are hilarious, but could have been even better with stronger dialogue. As love struck Nick strives to win his way back to Sheeni by being bad, his decisions land him in a classic spiral of trouble and disaster, until finally, there’s nowhere to run.

I must say I enjoyed this movie despite myself. To be honest, I’m a little over Michael Cera and for that matter, Jesse Eisenberg, playing the same roles in all their movies. Director Miguel Artata doesn’t get Cera to do anything he hasn’t done before. That said, Superbad, Adventureland (Eisenberg) and especially Zombieland (Cera) are all brilliant movies, so maybe I shouldn’t be such a Debbie Downer. The dry humor script was penned by the author of Charlie Bartlett, but thankfully Youth in Revolt is way more advanced. I didn't personally find it very original, but made me laugh. Every now and then, the filmmakers drop a dash animation into the mix to change it up; the movie didn’t need this to survive, but sex manuals on magic mushrooms do rather call for a bit of extra color. One aspect I really loved was the whole French obsession theme. Music-wise this means classics from Serge Gainsbourg, Belgian Jacques Dutronc singing about the world being a cactus and Brigitte Bardot in on 60s Yé-Yé mode Ça Pourrait Changer.

For inexplicable reasons, the theatrical release of Youth in revolt seems to have taken a while. The film is now slated for U.S. theatrical release in January 2010.

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

oh my do you think it will be snarky or have razor wit?

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

just found this site and am love it. quick note: Cera was not in Zombieland, it was Eisenberg. Cera was of course in Superbad.

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

I think what the author is saying is that Eisenberg and Cera are interchangeable


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