DVD Releases: ‘Youth in Revolt’

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.

Cera is Nick Twisp, not far removed from to the character of the same name he played in 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008), a teenager with divorced parents and a quirky fascination with vinyl and Sinatra. Twisp is, of course, on a mission to lose his virginity, which sounds highly familiar to Cera’s character Evan in the aforementioned Superbad (2007). When misled with the promise of a cabin vacation with his mother and her lover, which actually turns out to be little more than a glorified trailer park, Twisp laments over the humdrum existence that is his life.

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.

Cera does what he does best, deadpan delivery and forlorn looks guaranteed to gain more than just a few laughs. Yet while the turn as Francois displays a tough side to Cera which we never knew he had, we still see the typecast Twisp as the film’s successor. The support is strong, especially from newcomer Adhir Kalyan as Veejay, Twisp’s aspiring womaniser schoolmate, yet Arteta bestows us with too many partially completed subplots and potentially brilliant characters underdeveloped, leaving us with nothing but purely a Michael Cera show.

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.

Natasha Bullen