Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Ari Graynor, Ray Liotta
- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Weinstein Co.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ost films that suffer the undesirable fate of collecting dust on the shelf usually do so because they’re not very good, but in the case of “Youth in Revolt,” (which was filmed back in 2008), it likely had more to do with the financial woes of its fledging studio, The Weinstein Company. Though Miguel Arteta’s latest dark comedy won't exactly burn up the box office, it’s certainly a much better movie than its release date suggests. January is typically a dumping ground for bad romantic comedies and genre flicks, but thanks to yet another standout performance from star Michael Cera, “Youth in Revolt” is the first big surprise of the season.
For geeky teenager Nick Twisp (Cera), the only thing worse than his current living situation is his fear of dying a virgin. His mom (Jean Smart) only wants him for the child support check she gets each month, while her new boyfriend, Jerry (Zach Galifianakis), is an insufferable hick. When he’s dragged along on a “vacation” to a recessive trailer park, however, Nick meets the girl of his dreams in self-professed Francophile, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). The two hit it off immediately, so when it’s finally time for Nick to leave, Sheeni suggests that he makes life a living hell for his mother so that she has no choice but to send him to live with his dad (Steve Buscemi), who has just relocated to a new house closer to Sheeni. When rebelling proves too difficult for the soft-spoken Nick, he invents a mustachioed alter-ego named Francois to tap into his bad side. Suffice it to say that things begin to go horribly wrong.
Say what you will about Michael Cera’s apparent lack of versatility, because while he may just be playing a variation of the same awkward teen from “Arrested Development,” “Juno” and “Superbad,” he continues to knock it out of the park every time. Cera has some of the best comic delivery in the business, and although he’s going to have to grow up at some point, he shouldn’t feel pressured. After all, Woody Allen has been doing the same schtick for over 40 years and he’s doing just fine. Still, those that are critical of Cera will be happy to see him having so much fun with the Francois persona, because it finally allows the actor to let loose in a very different role than we’re used to seeing him in. The supporting cast – which also includes Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Fred Willard and Mary Kay Place – is good for a few laughs, and relative newcomer Portia Doubleday is a great find, but “Youth in Revolt” lives and dies by Cera’s involvement.
It’s hard to surmise just how much of the humor in Nick’s dialogue comes from Cera himself, but writer Gustin Nash (who also wrote 2008’s “Charlie Bartlett,” a spiritual companion film if there ever was one) still deserves credit for adapting C.D. Payne’s darkly comical book series for the big screen. The ending is a little too safe considering everything that precedes it, and there’s clearly been a lot from the books that was left out, but of the various misadventures that remain, the film version will definitely have you hungry for more Nick Twisp. Any movie that can rally up interest in the material it was based on is a win in my mind, but Cera’s hilarious performance as a modern day Holden Caulfield makes “Youth in Revolt” a must-see for any fan of hipster comedies.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Sony’s Blu-ray release of “Youth in Revolt” offers up a decent collection of special features including an audio commentary with director Miguel Arteta and Michael Cera that is pretty laidback, but still entertaining. There’s also about ten minutes of deleted scenes, deleted and extended animated sequences, and audition footage for many of the film’s lesser known actors like Portia Doubleday, Erik Knudsen and Adhir Kalyan.