With the Judd Apatow machine seemingly neglecting its tri-monthly oil injection, it is a welcome pleasure to see new pretenders stepping up to fill the teen comedy void, albeit with familiar faces providing the laughs. Youth in Revolt, based on the diarised C.D. Payne novels, follows the lovelorn, awkward and unfortunately named Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) as he attempts to change his tame existence by bequeathing his intellectual, emotional and virginal desires upon aloof, holiday fling Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Although sharing Nick’s cool-cat tastes in pop culture and overcooked philosophy, Sheeni, an elegant, haughty non-virgin, makes it clear that she lusts after more assertive men.
His holiday and the romance of his dreams cut short following this disparaging realisation, Nick returns home determined to engineer a reunion with Sheeni. It is at this joyous juncture that we are introduced to Nick’s fabulously rampant ID and alter ego, Francois Dillinger, a French, pencil moustache totting bad boy (also played by Cera). An un-Twispesque procession of scandalous behaviour ensues as Dillinger dips in and out of control, Me, Myself and Irene style, stopping at nothing in his quest to win over Sheeni’s heart on behalf of his flannel-wet counterpart.
Constant chuckles, memorable scenes, quirky dialogue and hilarious characters.
With this entertaining framework in place and a splendid selection of comedic actors at his disposal, director Miguel Arteta does a sterling job of maintaining a rapid-fire pace whilst cramming in a surprising number of set pieces. Nonetheless, comparisons to recent hits Juno, Superbad and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist are inevitable as Cera, the apparent poster boy for coming-of-age films, acts out his well practised shtick, inducing a nagging sense of deja vu. An unfortunate predicament considering the actor’s refreshing and brilliant performance as the fantastic yet disappointingly underused Francois Dillinger.
In addition, by slyly attempting to enhance box office potential with the tactical inclusion of an indie-rooted soundtrack, paper-mache, Michel Gondry-style animated interludes and a variety of weird and wonderful supporting characters, Youth in Revolt is found guilty of peddling glossy studio values while shamelessly masquerading as an indie flick. Original, surprisingly touching and unpredictable? No. But if you’re looking for constant chuckles, memorable scenes, quirky dialogue and hilarious characters then get youthful, get some sweeties and get involved.