Review: Youth in Revolt

Youth in Revolt (15)

Dir. Miguel Arteta

Starring. Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart and Steve Bushemi


Since finding his feet with excellent performances as George-Michael Bluth in the criminally underrated TV series Arrested Development, Michael Cera’s rise to fame has been slow and steady.  He migrated to the silver screen with solid turns in films such as Superbad, Juno and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.  Finally, with this year’s Youth in Revolt, Cera gets his chance to hold centre stage, not just once, but twice in the same picture.

Cera plays Nick Twisp, a hopelessly nerdy and priapic teenager, living in suburban hell and existing at the whim of his desperate mother (Jean Smart) and her poor relationship choices. When Jerry(Zach Galifianakis) – said mothers latest boyfriend- rips off a handful of marines in the sale of a car, Nick is dragged to a countryside trailer park to lay low.  It is whilst there that he meets, and falls into lust with, frank talking, Francophile Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday).  He soon realises that for them to be together forever, Nick must unleash his inner Tyler Durden and cause enough mayhem to be booted from his home and reunited with his love.

Although the initial set up of the film is enjoyable -if a little tired; like so many teen comedies it takes a few forgivablebut obvious and weak turns in plot, only to falter in the third act.  Unfortunately, instead of a comic, teen version of Fight Club, what the viewer gets is a slightly clumsy two hours marred by indecision.

Cera’s career has flourished because it’s built upon his ability to portray a subtle sarcasm and sobering reaction to his more idiosyncratic cast-members; the aforementioned films being case and point. Youth in Revolt has plenty of fine actors to fill the screen, and the likes of Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta and Justine Long all deliver on the goods, but the most notable being Zach Galifianakis as Jerry. However, amidst the host of cameos, the saving grace is Nick’s interplay with his alter-ego François.

In François, Cera creates a character that is genuinely funny, eliciting the best scenes and the only real laughs. Artera allows too much time spent accommodating the extensive cast of secondary characters instead of dedicating more screen time to the real draw of the film.  What could have been a tight and seamless indie flick instead feels like a rushed and cluttered piece of cinema that will simply act as filler in everyone’s CVs.

That said, it is hard to dislike Youth in Revolt, and although audiences may eventually tire of Cera if he fails to diversify and adopt more adult and challenging roles, the film would have almost certainly been a complete failure without the underdog charm that he brings so effortlessly to the screen.  One the whole Youth in Revolt makes a great date movie, but will ultimately find itself forgotten.

Watch the trailer:


About craig shaw

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