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