Youth In Revolt


Cera turns ladykiller...

Thanks to Arrested Development, Superbad et al, Michael Cera is the poster boy for geek-chic awkwardness.

On the evidence of this coming-of-age comedy, it doesn’t look like he’s giving up that payday schtick anytime soon. But after the turkey that was Year One, at least the lad is back on his game as apathetic teen virgin Nick Twisp, who hopes to pop his cherry and escape life with Ma (Jean Smart) and her oik boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis).

Falling hard for trailer-park minx Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), Nick plots to be with her by getting thrown out of home for delinquency. So he dreams up a bad-boy alter ego, Francois Dillinger (Cera with blue contacts), who rocks a pencil moustache, Gauloises fags and a louche attitude to the law. Like a pastel-wearing Tyler Durden, Francois is soon blowing shit up and getting Nick both into trouble and into knickers…

Based on CD Payne’s cult novel, Youth borrows liberally: delivered deadpan, the arch dialogue echoes Juno; while the horniness and (occasional) sweetness evoke American Pie and John Hughes respectively. Throw in rollicking support (Hangover slob du jour Galifianakis, stoner Justin Long and a naked Fred Willard), a part-animated magic mushrooms skit and a girls’ school sleepover straight out of St Trinian’s, and you’ve got a 15-year-old boy’s idea of movie heaven. But Cera manages to bring the extra something that makes this an unexpectedly appealing movie for both genders.

While his trademark little-lamb cuteness is a given when playing nerdy Nick, there’s a certain kick to be had from the arrogance of his Francois. Not only does the latter incarnation bag all the best lines (“I’m going to wrap your legs around my head and wear you like the crown you are,” he purrs at one point), he may even prove to be an unsuitable guilty crush.

Ladies, is it so wrong to fancy a man who’s wearing white loafers and slacks?


Whimsical, saucy, funny and achingly embarrassing, this is a beguiling if derivative goodboy- spins-out farce. But Cera really should make this his dweeb swansong lest he outstay his welcome.

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    • CreativePen

      Aug 8th 2010, 17:01

      Here’s the thing. If you dress a rhino in a clown suit, it’s still a rhino. If you place a cowboy hat on a panda, it’s still a panda. And whatever film Michael Cera stars in, he’s still Michael Cera. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of Cera up to now. His geeky persona has lent itself well to a litany of films. I got quite a kick out of Juno and Superbad, not to mention the fact that he was the best thing in the disappointing Year One. The problem is that Youth in Revolt is a film too far for Cera. The backlash has officially begun. If, unlike me, you haven’t tired yet of seeing Cera playing a dorky dweeb, then you’ll be more tolerant of this mild-mannered comedy. Personally, I found myself more frustrated than a Formula 1 driver in a traffic jam. Cera plays the articulate teen, Nick Twisp, who’ll do anything he can to win the affections of his dream girl Sheeni. That’s pretty much the plot. Youth in Revolt is more a character study. I don’t get what all the fuss is about when it comes to narration. A million and one ‘how to write screenplay guides’ claim it’s a lazy man’s way of conveying exposition, of furthering plot. I’d argue the opposite. When done properly, narration works. In the case of Youth in Revolt, Cera links the ensuing action together by means of his dry, sarcastic narration. It’s one of the few successes of the film. If it succeeds on any level, it’s tapping into the novelistic vibe of its source material, CD Payne’s novel, Youth in Revolt. Cera’s narration really helps in creating this feel. Youth in Revolt is far from awful. The problem is that it’s been done a million times before and a million times better. And the blame doesn’t lie squarely at the feet of Cera. Director, Miguel Arteta, has to shoulder the bulk of responsibility. It was Arteta, after all, who delivered the film which burst the Michael Cera bubble. There is little doubt Cera has deliberately typecast himself in the quirky mould. It’s what he does best. But if the actor has more than one gear, now is time to shift up a notch. If you’ve never seen a Michael Cera film before, then quite possibly you’ll fall for the charm of Youth in Revolt. Those who are familiar with his career though will find nothing new in this film. For Cera, Youth in Revolt is just another day at the office. Now where’s the revolution in that? Matthew Pattinson is a freelance copywriter at

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