Based on the novel by C.D. Payne, Arteta’s direction sets the premise for an intelligent and witty take on the plight of the teen, and a strong supporting cast including Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi and Justin Long should have surely elevated Youth in Revolt (2009) to the heights of success. Unfortunately, the film struggles to become much more than a Cera vehicle, parading the character, or simply the only character Cera is able to play: the emotionally troubled indie kid.
That is, until a chance encounter on the way to the shower room introduces him to the beautiful Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), a suitably kooky match for Twisp with an obsession for Jean-Paul Belmondo and, in fact, all things French. There is one problem however: Sheeni already has a boyfriend. Not only does she have a boyfriend, he’s called Trent. With a name like Twisp, and an image as pitiable as a lost puppy, it seems Nick’s plans to get laid are firmly quashed. However, Twisp comes up with a genius plan to overcome these grave disadvantages and win over Sheeni’s affection: by adopting the alter-ego of Francois Dillinger, the moustache-wearing, cigarette-smoking, tight-trouser wearing epitome of French suave.
With Cera hitting our screens as Bryan Lee O’Malley’s cult creation Scott Pilgrim – potentially another opportunity for him to play it safe – in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) at the end of August, we can only hope Cera steps it up a notch and strives for a new, unseen edge in his performance.