‘Youth in Revolt’ part inspired, part irresponsible

Roger Moore

“Punk” and “rebel” don’t belong in the same sentence with “Michael Cera.” But somehow, they connect in the few-holds-barred teen comedy “Youth in Revolt.”

“Youth” serves up our favorite sweet pushover
(“Juno,” “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) as Nick Twisp,
virginal twerp, in love-lust with brazen, confident Sheeni (Portia Doubleday).
And we see Nick’s alter ego, “Francois,” a mustachioed hoodlum and
hipster, the sort of guy who actually has a shot with a girl like

Because literate and witty boys like Nick don’t get
the girl. Not usually, anyway. He keeps a journal. He soft-sells his
insults to his cougar-mom (Jean Smart) and whoever her latest beau is (Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta).
Nick knows that Oakland is “a city filled with women who have zero
interest in me.” What he may not know is that his every gesture and
high-voiced utterance screams “sissy.”

But a vacation in a rural trailer park, meeting the fetching Sheeni, could change that.

“What’s your name?”

“Dillinger,” he lies.

She’s the daughter of “religious fanatics,” but sexy
and savvy enough to recognize her powers over boys, with a cruel
willingness to use those powers on Nick. What she talks him into doing
is why he needs a Francois in his psyche —”bold, contemptuous of
authority, irresistible to women,” who stands up to his parents, sets
fires, consumes psychedelic mushrooms and makes trouble.

Equal parts inspired and irresponsible, the new film from Miguel Arteta (director of the cult hit “Chuck and Buck”) turns C.D. Payne’s novel (script by Gustin Nash)
into a hit-or-miss homage to that French classic of outlaw love,
“Breathless.” Arteta captures Sheeni’s inscrutable smile and Nick’s
clumsy obsession, and the daft eccentrics (Fred Willard, Justin Long) whose path Nick crosses.

Yes, it’s still a movie about another “I am going to
die a virgin” teen. But “Youth in Revolt” is also about French books,
French singers and classic French films, about being the smart boy who
wants to win the heart of “the mother of my future gifted children” but
not smart enough to not make every mistake doing it.

Youth in Revolt

2 1/2 stars

Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis

Director: Miguel Arteta

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Industry rating: R for sexual content, language and drug use

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