Youth in Revolt
- James Mottram
- 1 February 2010
Alongside Adventureland star Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera has cornered the market over the last few years when it comes to playing the thoughtful, mildly nerdish boy-next-door. Be it in juvenile comedy (Superbad), adolescent angst-drama (Juno) or a self-conscious splicing of the two (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). It’s an archetype he’s essayed expertly, if a little too often. Thus, it’s rather unfortunate that Miguel Arteta’s long-delayed Youth In Revolt (which was shot in 2008) finally arrives in cinemas. In the wakes of its predecessors, this coming-of-age comedy feels overly familiar – which is a shame for Cera, who is quite superb as both a sensitive, sex-obsessed virgin and his rebellious alter ego.
Adapted from the 1993 novel by CD Payne, Cera plays the teenage Nick Twisp, who lives with his trailer-trash mother (Jean Smart) and her slob of a boyfriend (The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis). On a family holiday, to the less-than-appealing Restless Axles trailer park, Nick meets the beguiling Sheeni (Portia Doubleday) and falls instantly head-over-heels. But with their union short-lived, Sheeni urges Nick to misbehave and get kicked out of his mother’s house so he can move in with his nearby father (Steve Buscemi). This he manages spectacularly, albeit with some help from his psyche, which conjures up Francois Dillinger (also Cera), a mustachioed Wayfarer-wearing Frenchman inspired by Jean-Paul Belmondo.
The first feature directed by Arteta since The Good Girl, his 2002 tale of a store clerk seeking a better life, in truth Youth In Revolt feels more like a blend of Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World and Ken Loach’s Looking For Eric than any of the recent Cera-starring teen films. Of course, it follows a formula – with kids all given acerbic, all-knowing dialogue while the adults are but dullards (whether its Sheeni’s God-fearing parents or Ray Liotta’s brutish cop). But, with Cera leading the way, there’s real charm to the piece. It may not touch The Catcher in the Rye when it comes to capturing teen angst, but Youth In Revolt is nevertheless destined for cultdom – not just among today’s more discerning teenagers but with those for whom adolescence is but a fond memory.
General release from Fri 5 Feb.