Youth in Revolt

Time Out New York Project: Issue #744/745, December 31, 2009–January 13, 2010

★★★☆☆

Dir. Miguel Arteta. 2009. R. 90mins. Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart.

Like any given episode of Family Guy, this adaptation of C.D. Payne’s novel is such a relentlessly cruel piece of work that you can’t help but laugh heartily at it. The insatiable libido of horndog high-schooler Nick Twisp (Cera) is the impetus for various scattershot misadventures that revolve around his desperate attempts to bed the Belmondo-loving Sheeni Saunders (Doubleday). She’s a sharp-tongued inspiration in Nick’s otherwise soul-deadening existence, constantly prodding him to come out of his shell and let his freak flag fly. And so it does when Nick creates Francois Dillinger (also Cera), a more suavely confident and seemingly corporeal alter ego who wreaks havoc wherever he goes.

As this snake-tongued doppelgänger, Cera sports a pencil-thin mustache, lasciviously brandishes a cigarette and embodies a perfect parody of adolescent wish fulfillment. He’s also a profane little fucker: In Youth in Revolt’s funniest scene — set in that comic gold mine, an all-girls boarding school — the two Ceras share screen space, as Francois coaches Nick on the proper, most vulgar ways to seduce Sheeni. It’s a kick to see Cera cut loose from his patented befuddled-nerd routine, even if the film’s caricatured performances and fish-in-a-barrel scorn are sure to be monotonous for some.—Keith Uhlich



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