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Youth in Revolt

March 30, 2010

I’ve always considered one of the most underrated jobs to be that of a movie trailer editor. It’s their responsibility to take a 90 minute film and assemble it into a 2 and half minute clip that makes a film look appealing and sexy. They truly deserve greater recognition, especially the person who made Youth in Revolt look even remotely entertaining. The best thing about this film is the exciting appearances from usually hilarious character actors. The worst thing about this film is how disappointing and unfunny each of those appearances turn out to be along with the overall bland script and directing.

In Youth in Revolt Michael Cera plays Nick Twisp, essentially the same character he plays in nearly every role. You know the more developed version of George Michael Bluth that appears in Juno, Superbad, and Paper Heart: the awkward adorable virgin with a heart of gold. His family life sucks because his mom, Estelle, (Jean Smart) is an empty shell of a woman dating any man that looks her way because she’s too afraid of being alone. Her current boyfriend Jerry (Zach Galifianakis) is a sex-crazed trashy redneck who makes Nick do chores so he can loudly bang Estelle in the next room. His dad is somehow dating a women half his age and all Nick has is his equally awkward best friend Lefty whose character is ditched to the side after about two pointless scenes in the film.

Typical of the Michael Cera character, he’s an awkward teen with refined taste, something that sets him apart from his peers. He loves Frank Sinatra, his favorite film is Tokyo Story, and while renting Fellini’s La Strada in a video store he is asked “does that movie come with tampons for your pussy?” Life sucks in the world of a refined teenager like Nick until he meets Sheeni Saunders and its love at first sight. Sheeni isn’t like the other girls Nick is used to meeting, of course not because like Juno she is the 21st century teenager. A girl who has an obsession with everything French, loves Godard’s masterpiece Breathless, idolizes Serge Gainsbourg, and not what her overly religious parents desire her to be.

They hit it off, fall in love, her parents hate him, he has to move back home blah blah the typical stuff and then she’s sent away to boarding school. In his desperation to be with Sheeni, Nick creates an alter ego François Dillinger, in order to give him the confidence that he needs to become “superbad” and get back the love of his life and finally have sex. Does he do it? Do things work? We both know the answer to that.

The problem with this movie is that it uses the same conventions of every film in its genre, the ’21st teen comedy genre’ that is. While the story may be something new and fresh, the narrative isn’t. Each character and plot twist is poorly written or blandly acted. Sheeni and Nick’s relationship develops in under a week before he’s willing to ruin his life for her. Portia Doubleday’s breathy and overplayed portrayal of Sheeni had me debating whether she was in love with Nick or just leading him on for the entire first hour of the film. Many of the characters are not only unnecessary to the overall development of the story but only thrown into the film for about 10 minutes each for the sake of cheap humor. Galifianakis’ Jerry is so underplayed that the funniest thing about him is his farmer’s tan. Justin Long, whose cameos are normally the saving grace in certain films, plays Paul Saunders, the awkward drug enthused older brother of Sheeni. A character that only appears to give random characters subpar trips on shrooms in scenes that play out humorlessly and short.

In a scene that had great potential, Nick is encouraged by Paul to eat only two caps due to the drugs potency. Nick does but François downs two handfuls then advises Nick to have fun before walking off. Now considering the film throws in two road trip scenes that inexplicably and unnecessarily are animated, it would be expected that a hilarious scene of Nick and his house guests tripping balls in a claymation animated world would ensue. However nothing happens. Instead while reading a sex manual book the images spring to life from the pages and Nick stares in awe while attempting to stick his pinky up the cartooned woman’s butt. That’s it. That’s his trip. After being warned of their potency and doing a drug he’s never done before, the film chooses not to take advantage of the situation.

That is how the entire 94 mines of Youth in Revolt plays out. The film revolves around dick jokes, sex talk, and Michael Cera running around in his boxers for humor. It builds you up to a scene that is expected to be funny and then it chickens out and steps down. Although it wanted so desperately to be edgy Youth in Revolt was neither intelligent nor funny. To be honest it was crap and a movie that I hope and pray that I never have to sit through again.

AVOID IT. Give it the wrong number if you have to.

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