Oh good, another coming-of-age comedy. It’s becoming a busy genre, which doesn’t necessarily mean coming-of-age films are doomed for failure, they just have to work harder and show us something we haven’t seen from other
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tales of pubescence. Youth in Revolt manages to bring some unique humor to the table, but it also gets disconnected and becomes a little too zany for its own good. It makes us laugh, but really doesn’t show us anything new.
Michael Cera stars as Nick Twisp, the aforementioned “coming of age youth.” He is stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place; the rock being his deadbeat Mom and the hard place being his deadbeat Dad (if you’re a deadbeat parent you’ll absolutely love this film). If you want to throw in a third rock, it would be the lack of anything remotely resembling a love life (if
you’re lacking a love life you’ll absolutely hate this film).
He finds his first target in Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). She’s the good girl gone bad, raised in a religious family, but with a flair for the dangerous. She can’t help but egg on Nick to break out of his shell and “Be bad, Nickie. Be very, very bad.”
Ah, there we go, now we have an excuse for a plot. Nick has to prove how much he loves her, by doing something outrageous! That’s all
well and good, but the plot becomes scattered when the characters seem to come and go. He
starts off having a best friend, the proverbial “awkward, seventeen-year-old virgin” who is worried of dying without getting any. Thirty minutes later he’s replaced by another seventeen year-old-virgin-best-friend, this guy just happens to be Indian (which sets up a later joke…not by me, by the film). There isn’t much of a unique back-story that allows the characters to be unique or engaging, which sets the film further back.
The film is at it’s strongest when the story focuses on the series of conflicts burying Nick. He’s the hard luck kid that we can’t help but feel sorry for. The relationship that he develops with Sheeni is enjoyable to watch, as both characters find discoveries in one another. Cera does a wonderful job displaying his comedic timing and an edginess that is even more entertaining to watch.
The decision to stylize the story in some wacky montages, and even crazier animated-sex scenes, is a little odd and distracting. The portrayal of Nick and his alter ego in the same scene is entertaining at times, but also hard to follow in others, although Cera pulls off the juxtaposition extremely well.
Youth in Revolt presents itself as a film that doesn’t have much of a story, so it figured it would jazz things up with a strong cast of featured characters. Even the best in the business can’t pull off the proper choices when they’re not strongly linked to the journey and the revolt of the main character. It provides some good laughs, but it tries a little too hard to show us something new, and comes away feeling a lot like the others in the end.