Youth in Revolt is the new Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s a film about the benefits of behaving badly and like the famous 1986 John Hughes movie it is headlined by an actor who brings charm and wit to the role of the rebel.
Hoodie heartthrob Michael Cera plays fourteen-year-old Nick Twisp, a mild mannered collection of raging hormones and quirky personality traits. He loves Sinatra and foreign films. When his family relocates to a Christian trailer park he meets his dream girl, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), a similarly anachronistic teenager with a taste for anything French and a dream of being swept off her feet by a bad boy named Francois. When circumstance steps in to keep them apart he (with the help of an imaginary friend named Francois Dillinger) reverses his goody-two-shoes image and becomes a rebel with a cause—he wants to impress her.
Cera has a corner on the awkward by coming-of-age movie, and as Twisp he doesn’t do anything he didn’t do in Juno or Superbad, but he’s charming and easy to watch. His work takes on a different dimension, however, when he slips into alter ego mode. As the mustachioed Francois he’s a refugee from a Belmondo film, equipped with a cigarette, and too tight white trousers. It’s not often that an actor gets to show his range playing two characters in one film, but this is a step forward for Cera, who has been locked into the wisecracking virgin stereotype since he left the small screen’s Arrested Development, grew some peach fuzz and started chasing girls on the big screen. It’s not exactly his first adult part but it shows he can do something other than act like an awkward teen while delivering funny lines with pitch perfect timing.
The supporting cast, made up of reliable old pros like Jean Smart, M. Emmet Walsh, Fred Willard and Steve Buscemi, do good work, but the movie wouldn’t work if Sheeni wasn’t the kind of girl worth throwing your life away for, but in the excellently named Portia Doubleday Youth in Revolt finds a newcomer with charisma to burn.
Youth in Revolt is a funny, delightful movie but its main strengths are its actors—Cera who expands his range and Doubleday who debuts hers.
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