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Youth in Revolt

A 2010 American film adaptation of C.D. Payne's novel of the same name.

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2.5 stars. Sporadically funny, but mostly listless and uninspired.

  • Jan 19, 2010
Your enjoyment of YOUTH IN REVOLT will mostly directly correlate to a) how much you like Michael Cera's "signature" film persona & b) how anxious you are to see him try something else.

Whether he's Nick in NICK & NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, George Michael in ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT or the guy in SUPERBAD or the caveman guy in YEAR ONE...Cera mostly gives one performance, that is only modulated by as little as he can get away with. (Let me be clear...when he's modulated his performance right on the money, he's both hilarious and touching...his role on ARRESTED was eye-opening, his performance in SUPERBAD was hilarious and his part in JUNO was nearly perfect.) His characters are usually very intelligent and very naïve. Open & sincere, yet confused by life. Sharp-tongued about life's obstacles, but also pretty much resigned to being able to do nothing about them.

That's Cera's character in YOUTH IN REVOLT, in which he plays a smart and smart-mouthed teen named Nick Twisp, who pretty much coasts through life on his own, rather than have to engage with his mother (Jean Smart, always welcome in ANY role) and her series of dubious boyfriends (from Zach Galifinakis to Ray Liotta). He very much wants to meet a girl, but he's pretty much resigned to believing that isn't going to happen anytime soon. Despite being able to toss off cultural reference jokes that most viewers won't get...Twisp is also so shy, stammering and soft-spoken that it's almost hard to believe the two traits can exist in one character. But this is what Cera excels at...and again, if you like that you may love this film.

However, I've decided that my patience for this character has just about run its course. I'll always like Michael Cera for the laughs he's given me...but it sure feels like his character is exhausted. In YEAR ONE, I forgave him because the overall film was so flaccid and unimaginative. But YOUTH IN REVOLT is the sort of film that plays to his strengths (a modern day kid), and he fails to evoke much sympathy or empathy. I want him to try something else!

When Nick Twisp meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) while on summer vacation at a trailer park by a lake, he falls madly in love and lust with her. Amazingly, she seems to like him as well, but fate keeps them apart, and Twisp doesn't have the personality to use the aggression needed to track her down and declare his feelings. So he "invents" a duel persona in Francois Dillinger (Sheeni likes all things French), who is a dare-devil who persuades Nick to engage in wildly unsafe activities.

The film has some really funny moments, including a hilarious scene in which Nick attempts to fake his own death. There is plenty of verbal wit, and some low key charm (Doubleday is an unknown face, so her Sheeni feels very fresh and it's easy to see why Nick is charmed and frustrated by her.) But often the film is tone-deaf. It wants to be gentle teen romance...yet we also get to see Steve Buscemi dole out lots of his standard issue screaming. (We also get to see Ray Liotta trot out his standard-issue "creepiness.") Fred Willard plays that part HE always plays. Justin Long looks deeply tired and uninterested (as he has in many movies recently).

In the end, much of the film just feels kind of limp and uninspired. There are laughs and some pleasures to be had, but virtually everyone simply seems to be coasting on the ghosts of past success. It's as though someone like Steve Buscemi is saying "hey, remember how great I've been in other films? Well, just assume my performance here is just as great, and I won't really make the effort." The script itself inspires little else, and the director (Miguel Arteta) hasn't forced the issue. Much of the film takes place during a lazy, slow-paced summer a couple of decades ago. The whole film feels lazy and slow paced too.

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More Youth in Revolt (movie) reviews
review by . June 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****       I'm beginning to admire Miguel Arteta more and more as I see more of his feature films. Maybe I like the guy because he crafts comedies as few other genre directors can. He's something special, for sure, and he often gets a boost from his nicely-picked screen-writers. I liked Arteta's film "Youth in Revolt" because it has Arteta written all over it. It's a funny, often clever and sly, and sometimes whimsical coming-of-age comedy that may not rank …
review by . January 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
In 1993 C.D. Payne wrote a Young Adult Novel called Youth in Revolt about a teenager named Nick Twisp.  It was a series that was eventually split into six books.  The first three were compressed together to form an epic novel that was simply called "Youth in Revolt."  It's those three books combined that this movie is based off of.  The book itself is a cult classic.  With an interesting character in Nick Twisp.  He may not be that believable but he is likeable …
review by . February 04, 2010
Michael Cera is a smart, funny, slightly awkward young man.  I know this because every role he has ever played has reinforced this knowledge.  Like Christopher Walken before him he excells at playing versions of himself.  And he does the same in Miguel Arteta's film "Youth in Revolt," adapted from the novel of the same name by C.D. Payne.  But part way through the film something very interesting happens, Nick Twisp (Cera) creates a 'don't give a damn' alter ego …
Quick Tip by . July 30, 2010
The movie did a good job using the various plot elements found in the book and shortening it to the good parts. It's good, but be prepared for some crude and filthy language.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
You might see Youth in Revolt as a coming of age story of sorts, but much of it whips by so fast that we hardly see just how the characters change. Near the end especially it's just not convincing enough just how Nick and Sheeni enjoy their moment together because just a couple of scenes before there's a huge ounce of drama where the characters find out one of the things Nick has done, and they get mad at him. Yet mere minutes later all is forgiven without much explanation at all. This is what makes …
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
prepare yourself for a movie that's kind of random, sort of in a good way, though not with much of a point. it's reasonably entertaining and will hold your interest most of the way through. also be prepared to watch this kid play the same role he's done in every other film : / it'll put you in the mood to watch a real film that used this device successfully... i.e. Fight Club.
Quick Tip by . January 14, 2010
YOUTH IN REVOLT is Michael Cera's first serious play for progress in his career and he does not disappoint.
About the reviewer

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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


Michael Cera adds to his collection of quick-witted young men with his portrayal of 16-year-old Nick Twisp. Born on the trashy side of the Oakland tracks, Nick hates his name almost as much as his life. Everyone he knows, including his divorced parents (Jean Smart and Steve Buscemi), gets more action than he does, but his luck changes when he meets junior femme fatale Sheeni (Portia Doubleday) during a trailer-park vacation. She may have overprotective parents (Mary Kay Place and M. Emmet Walsh) and a boyfriend back at school, but she also likes Jean-Paul Belmondo movies, Serge Gainsbourg records--and Nick. There's just one hitch--she prefers bad boys, so Nick creates cynical, cigarette-smoking alter ego François Dillinger to win her heart (just as musician Gainsbourg created devilish doppelgänger Gainsbarre). Little does Nick know he's playing with fire--literally--since François gives him license to set his pent-up inhibitions free: he sneaks into Sheeni's private-school dorm, blows up his mother's boyfriend's car (Zach Galifianakis as the boyfriend), and trips on magic mushrooms with Sheeni's burnout brother and a radical family friend (Justin Long and Fred Willard, both hilarious). As withChuck and BuckandThe Good Girl, Miguel Arteta's adaptation of C.D. Payne's young adult series offers equal parts sorrow and humor. The animated sequences add whimsy, but there's something more disturbing than romantic about ...
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Director: Miguel Arteta
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: January 8, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: June 15, 2010
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: Permut
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