Youth in Revolt (2009) – Film Review
Director: Miguel Arteta
Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Ray Liota
by Matt Callard
CD Payne’s 500 plus pages cult novel doesn’t exactly lend itself toward obvious cinematic conversion. It is cram full of insatiable early-teen sexual urges, drug abuse, cross-dressing, gay sex and a massive array of OTT supporting characters.
So it’s no surprise to see the writers of Youth in Revolt take a tactical side-step and pitch the movie in the Superbad teen farce vein. Although that does this nimble little comedy a disservice. It comes much closer in tone to last year’s excellent sad/funny coming-of-age drama Adventureland.
Michael Cera (Nick) at last breaks free of his mild-mannered, smarter-than-the-average-bear persona. But only because he plays a dual role. His alter-ego Francois is a mustachioed projection of Nick’s lascivious imagination. He oozes callous disregard for anything except his own libido.
“An excess of ideas and ambition”
It’s a funny device that works well. Especially when Nick meets the verbal Sheeni (a star-making turn from debutant Portia Doubleday) and becomes obsessed with winning her at any cost.
Packed with neat, stylistic dialogue, laudably outsize scenes and a masterful comic range from the sensitive to the surreal. Youth in Revolt might be a little too clever-clever for its own good at times but, at least, here’s a film with an excess of ideas and ambition, rather than a dearth.