I actually kind of blame this movie for crumbling my will to review movies for a record-breaking dry spell. When I saw Youth in Revolt, I was unaware of its original source material; it seems that C.D. Payne’s novel is actually much more adventurous and deviant than just a sweet boy acting like a sociopathic jerk to make a girl like him. I’m glad I was ignorant, actually, so I could enjoy the twin pleasures of Michael Cera as his trademark unrequited shyboy Nick Twisp and Michael Cera as disco-clad lothario Francois Dillinger. Every time his hilariously over-the-top alter ego is on screen, the movie comes alive. The little things he does to prove to us that he’s a bastard are smaller and therefore funnier and a little more unexpected than something say, James Spader might have done during his douchey 1980’s period. If Sweet Cera and Wicked Cera are sharing the screen, Youth in Revolt flirts with brilliance. I do have a predilection for novel ways of sharing someone’s inner monologue, and we never quite know which body is actually the body in use.
The rest of the time, Revolt presents us with that post-Napoleon Dynamite sort of plodding study of eccentricity and wackiness for wackiness’ sake, poky and mildly random and totally detached. I wonder how many 19 year old hipsters are frantically combing the thrift stores for white pants and loafers. Here and there, filmmaker and TV veteran Miguel Arteta drops in some cute and varied animated bits, reminding us maybe too much of Paper Hearts (also featuring Cera) and not enough of something relevant to the story arc Cera’s real character is meant to be traveling. Watching a sweet lad wreck his life in pursuit of an unappreciative girl is nearly as off-putting (when he’s not Duckie) as watching him succeed in this way. The escalations of Francois Dillinger server only to try and shock and then succeed in chasing the audience away, even if this one girl is worth it.
I am not one who complains of Michael Cera fatigue, but I would have preferred him to be in an all-Francois-Dillinger role rather than continue to go to the milquetoast mine so resolutely. If they really follow through on this Arrested Development movie, what made George Michael so winning is going to be something we all have seen too much of, which does a disservice to Cera’s real depth of skill and talent.
From what I read about the source novel, it sounded brutal and horrible. The 14 year-old reviewers on Amazon.com insist it nails the persona. Be that as it may, as a lady who could be the mother of these kids, I don’t disapprove, I guess I am just not all that interested. Youth in Revolt does have a fabulous soundtrack, so I can recommend that pretty highly.
MPAA Rating R-sexual content, language, drug use
Release date 1/8/10
Time in minutes 130
Director Miguel Arteta
Studio Weinstein Company