REVIEW: Youth in Revolt
PLOT: Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is a geeky high school-er, eager for the day he'll finally lose his virginity. He lives with his mom (Jean Smart), while his father (Steve Buscemi) has remarried a woman less than half his age (Ari Graynor). When his mom's boyfriend (Zach Galifinakis) dupes some sailors out of $900, the family briefly relocates to a trailer park- where he meets his dream girl- Sheeni Saunders (Portis Doubleday). A Jean-Paul Belmondo obsessed francophile- she lives with her religious zealot parents (M. Emmett Walsh, Mary Kay Place), and a drug addled brother (Justin Long). When it's finally time for Nick, and his family to go home- Sheeni suggests an elaborate plan where they can get Nick's father a job closer to her and her family, so that they can continue their romance. To do so- he'll have to get himself kicked out of his mom's house, so that he can be sent to live with his relocated dad. Doing so proves to be harder than he thought- so he invents a sociopath alter-ego named Francois, to help him with his misdeeds.
REVIEW: Well, it looks like the Michael Cera we knew, and loved from ARRESTED: DEVELOPMENT may not be dead after all! Granted, NICK & NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, and YEAR ONE (not to mention PAPER HEART) were pretty insufferable, but with YOUTH IN REVOLT, Cera bounces back in a big way. While he still plays essentially the same character he's been playing since SUPERBAD & JUNO, YOUTH IN REVOLT finally allows him to show a bit of edge, especially once his alter-ego, Francois is introduced.
Basically, Francois is the guy Nick wants to be. He dresses like Sheeni's idol, Jean-Paul Belmondo, sports a pencil-thin moustache, and always has a cigarette perched on his lips. He's also capable of some pretty horrible things, and the film gets surprisingly dark, with Nick getting ever more immoral. Appropriately, given Sheeni's obsession with all things french, YOUTH IN REVOLT more or less plays out like an American, teen comedy remake of an old Jean Luc-Goddard/ Belmondo film called PIERROT LE FOU- in which Belmondo played a regular guy, seduced over to a life of crime and anarchy by a beautiful woman played by Anna Karina (to whom Doubleday bears a remarkable resemblance).
I think it helps that Cera`s got a really great director here, with Miguel Arteta- who previously helmed similarly dark comedies, CHUCK AND BUCK, and THE GOOD GIRL. His comedic sensibility seems to suit Cera, with him giving the performance of his life- especially as Francois. The film also benefits from a stellar supporting cast, including Buscemi, Smart, Ray Liotta, and Fred Willard, who steals every scene he`s in as Cera`s establishment hating neighbor who also has a pretty bad magic mushroom trip in one particularly memorable scene. I also really enjoyed Adhir Kalyan as Nick`s sophisticated school friend Vijay with whom he takes a particularly eventful road trip towards the middle of the film.
I really am shocked by how much I liked YOUTH IN REVOLT, as it was not high on my list of films to see at TIFF. It`s truly a brilliantly dark comedy that had most of the critics at the press screening I attended laughing throughout, or at least the ones who didn`t walk out in disgust, which, truth be told, there were more than a few of (the film opens with Cera masterbating over the studio logo- so it's probably not for everyone). It's a great vehicle for Cera, and I look forward to seeing it again!