Youth in Revolt
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Written by Gustin Nash and C.D. Payne
Starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday
It’s no surprise that in the opening moments of “Youth in Revolt,” the latest movie that relies on Michael Cera’s distinct charm, we are introduced to Cera as Nick Twisp, whose delicate last name is a testament to his obvious virgin status. You’ve probably at least heard of Michael Cera and the certain type of virginal adolescent he always portrays: gawky, soft-spoken and unintentionally witty. Like most teenage boys, Nick has only one thing on his mind and is constantly reminded of the lack of action he’s getting by everyone around him, including his divorced parents. Nick catches a break from the douchebag magnets who have previously rejected him when he meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), a beautiful and cultured young woman. Needless to say, it’s love at first sight. But to woo her, Nick needs to trump her “perfect” boyfriend by becoming the racy badboy of her dreams.
Enter François Dillinger, Nick’s alter ego who is everything he’s not — “bold, contemptuous of authority, and irresistible to women.” Equipped with a mustache, cigarette, and a significantly deeper voice than his counterpart, François feeds Nick advice on how to stir up trouble in order to get the girl. Under his influence, Nick manages to set a five-million dollar fire, destroy two cars and a trailer, sneak into a girl’s dormitory, and elude the police long enough to convince Sheeni that he’s the one. Through François, we are able to see what Cera could be like in an alternate universe, where his gangly adolescence lends itself to the dangerous appeal in his alternate personality.
Though “Youth In Revolt tells the typical story of boy meets girl, it stands apart from the mundane romantic comedies filled with clichés and charming, fast-talking characters through the power of Cera’s signature awkward charm (and a refreshing badassittude). His body language alone is enough to convey a certain immaturity when it comes to girls. In one scene, Nick is walking Sheeni back to her trailer after a day at the beach. As they walk side by side, we watch as Cera uncomfortably folds his arms as if he were a Tyrannosaurus rex and has no idea how to maneuver his limbs. Suddenly, he reaches out to grab Sheeni’s hand, and she neatly avoids his grasp. It is this sort of laughable gracelessness in Cera’s actions and words that make this film worth a watch. But most of all, who wouldn’t want to see Michael Cera as a smooth criminal?