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At 16, Nick Twisp is wry about his teen funk: he lives in Oakland with his sex-addled mother; his father's child support is her meal ticket. While camping in Ukiah, Nick meets Sheeni: for him, it's love at first sight. Nick has to figure out how to get his father a job in Ukiah, then how to get sent to live with his father, then how to get close to Sheeni, whose religious parents may want her sent away from temptation to a boarding school. There's also Sheeni's all-American boyfriend to contend with. Overwhelmed by the challenges, Nick's about to give up when he conjures an alter ego who whispers revolt into his ear. Nick is not altogether hapless, but can this end well?Written by
"I'm going to wrap your legs around my head and wear you like the crown that you are."
Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is sixteen years old, his parents are separated, his closest friend his having a midlife crisis over thirty years too early and all he can think about is the fact that he hasn't lost his virginity yet. He is almost the common replica of the stereotypical teenage boy, except for the fact that he enjoys the films of Fellini and Godard. Everything changes however for Nick when a brief, chance move from his lonely hometown of Oakland to a religious mobile trailer park in the small city of Ukiah brings him face to face with Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) – who is unequivocally the love of his life. But when his family moves back to Oakland, Nick must invent a supplementary 'bad-boy' persona within himself named Francois (he has a moustache, and enjoys the occasional smoke), who would be willing to cause the mayhem Nick wouldn't. Francois's central objective is to get Nick kicked out of his dysfunctional home in Oakland, which he shares with his emotionally fragile mother (Jean Smart), and reunited with Sheeni, with the intention of living happily ever after (while also losing his virginity).
'Youth in Revolt', is another hip, quirky comedy in which Michael Cera is given centre-stage in which to showcase abilities, however, he must tread cautiously in the future as he is dangerously close to becoming typecast (Superbad, Juno) as the desolate, yet intellectual teenage boy just looking to release his sexual burden. Cera and Doubleday carry the film along nicely, and provide some very humorous on-screen chemistry, especially during the sequences involving very awkward circumstances – i.e. when Nick is asked to place a small amount of sun cream on Sheeni's back during a trip to the beach. Portia Doubleday in particular shines as unknown actress thrust into the supporting actress slot alongside Michael Cera. She works with a particular grace, and maturity that makes her performance at times overshadow that of the experience Cera.
While aside from these two characters, Arteta's film also has an extensive A-list cast on show who take a backseat to the main story and occasionally chime in during the various convoluted sub-plots on show. Steve Buscemi is Nick's jobless father George Twisp, Zack Galifianakis is Nick's mothers first boyfriend Jerry who should never be let out around the Navy, and Ray Liotta plays Officer Wescott, a fascist policeman who also starts dating Nick's mother and becomes somewhat responsible for Nick's downfall. Fred Willard (Mr Ferguson), Justin Long (Paul Saunders) and M. Emmet Walsh (Mr Saunders) also make an appearance in the extensive cast. Despite this list containing the 'whose who' of Hollywood Boulevard, I was surprised to see that certain narrative arcs were ignored. For instance, if the relationship between Nick and his father was expanded upon, it would have provided further substance to the film and the characters themselves. Though, unfortunately we are left filling in the majority of the gaps ourselves.
Miguel Arteta has created a very funny and witty film in 'Youth in Revolt,' that despite having its flaws and areas in which it could have improved upon, ultimately prevails as another competent coming-of-age teen-flick that is centred around the holiest of teenage sanctities: sexual intercourse. The amusing remarks, awkward sexual situations, and hardcore French supplementary personas are all there creating another comfortable vehicle for Cera, to drive to a French Boarding School.
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