And so once again we join Michael Cera in progress as he tries to lose his virginity. Does this sound like the plot of every Michael Cera film? I mean, at least in Juno, he got it over with real quick-like. In Youth in Revolt, it doesn’t come so easily. But at least it is, surprisingly, darn funny, if silly as hell. You must wonder why the Weinsteins would wait to stash this in the January dump period.
With a loser mother (Jean Smart), a loser father (Steve Buscemi), a loser mom’s boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis) and, well, a loser life, Cera’s over-intellectual teen-ager Nick Twisp is floating through high school without hope of a lay. When they head for the hills – or rather the trailer park – to keep mom’s loser boyfriend from getting a good beatdown, he meets the French-film-loving girl of his dreams (Portia Doubleday), until fate separates them.
The film goofs on Cera’s awkward image by pairing him with a more confident (and more French) alter ego. The alter ego – a perfectly foul-mouthed, mirrored-sunglassed psychopath, by his own description – instructs his innocent formal self in arson and other acts of delinquency, all in a plot (that I couldn’t explain if I wanted to) to re-unite him with the momentary love of his 16-year-old life. From there Youth in Revolt gets less and less probable and more and more humorous.
Director Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck)simultaneously mocks and tries to achieve the spirit of the New Wave and other restless youth films of the sixties. It doesn’t rise to the level of appreciation or success of Wes Anderson’s ‘Rushmore’ in that category, but it could be worse. The plot is silly, the humor is broad but clever. That means it had better make you laugh or fail.