Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is a horny teenage youth with a twist - he wishes to be a writer, lives by the songs of Frank Sinatra, appreciates the films of Fellini, wryly observing the lives of his divorced parents - his father, who lives with a much younger, blonder model, and his mother, who takes whatever men/f-buddies she can get. Under all his witticisms, he just wants to fit in. Whilst accompanying his mother and her current lover on a trailer park holiday, he sets his eyes on Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), whom, to him, is perfection. They have a sweet but short-lived Summer fling (a strictly first and second base one, which Twisp's virginity remains intact from), but Nick wants it to last forever. Adopting a double persona as Francois, his badass alter ego, Nick sets to doing all he can in order to get thrown out so he can go live near Sheeni. At the start of the film, Nick had noted "In movies, the good guy gets the girl. In reality, it's usually the prick", and sets about righting this for once. He is, to all intents and purposing, fighting for her love.
Youth in Revolt plays, at times, like a cross between Superbad and Fight Club, what with the plot revolving around a teenager's quest to lose his bunginity, as well as the fact that he (in his mind) constructs another, cooler vision of himself, one who has the balls to do the things that he normally dare not. It is R-rated (15 in the UK), but not terribly explicit or rude, it just doesn't hold back on the cursing and has a few sex jokes that would go beyond what would be allowed at a 12. There are some hilarious comedic sequences- one in particular involving the protagonist's bad attempt to fake his own death, but on the whole, the film is funny in a downbeat, quiet way. The quirky style of the film is complemented with performances by indie stars Steve Buscemi and Ray Liotta, both who own the camera for the brief moments they are in.
My main concern with Youth in Revolt was that I was simply never convinced that Sheeni reciprocated Nick's (admittedly extremely strong) feelings. It doesn't help, of course, that Portia Doubleday isn't a very good performer, but on the whole, I found her character cold, confused and a little annoying. Part of the joy of Youth in Revolt is enjoying all the escapades to Nick's climb to his destination, and not necessarily the destination, but I couldn't help but feel throughout the film that Sheeni wasn't a worthwhile one. (Though perhaps that doesn't matter, and what matters is that Nick thinks it is). All that said, I did very much enjoy the adorable animated sequence that played through the credits involving the two.
Michael Cera, who warmed hearts in Juno and Superbad, is completely at home in the role of dorky teenage boy, and once again, he steals the show - and my heart - here. His Nick Twisp certainly has a warped, bordering on psychotic idea of what it means to fight for someone's love but there's an everyday quality to Cera's acting and looks that renders him totally likeable, no matter what the creepy scenario he finds himself in. If it weren't for Cera, I may have found the film annoying and not all that funny, but thanks to him, it mostly manages to be bright, sweet and engaging. Cera is definitely one to keep an eye on; mark my words, that lad'll go far.