June 17, 2010
Youth in Revolt (2010) **1/2
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Youth in Revolt (2010)- A wet noodle of a coming of age tale. Misses opportunity to comment on teenage angst. Not that funny. **1/2 out of 5
I've heard great things about C.D. Payne's novel, though I've never read it myself. Never have I seen a mediocre film that almost oozes the wasted potential of its source material. Youth in Revolt could have been a film about sexual awakening and teenage rebellion. Instead, it's simply one film among many other better films sitting on Blockbuster shelves and Netflix instant viewing queues. Arteta and Cera turn a potential voice of a generation into a cookie-cutter coming of age comedy which grasps at whimsy through the main character's dual personality and a couple of animated sequences, but fails to capture any sort of memorable charm or kitsch. I think about the provocativeness of something like Where the Wild Things Are, and I can't help but shake my head at this lukewarm attempt at capturing the psychological turmoil of adolescence.
Michael Cera, an actor I've loved in everything I've seen him in up to this point, does not embody the kind of charisma needed to pull off the dual role of Nick Twisp and Francois Dillinger. He's almost too charming and likable as Twisp, and he's not at all believable or funny as Dillinger. On a scale from 1 to 10, Nick should have been a 1, and Francois should have been a 10. Instead, both characters fall somewhere between 4 and 6.
There are a few fun cameos from talented actors bringing their A game like Jean Smart, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Zack Galifianakis, Fred Williard and Justin Long, and newcomer Portia Doubleday is pretty great to watch in the first half before her character becomes a complete bore towards the end. There's nothing terribly offensive or awful within, and I admittedly laughed out loud about six or seven times. Yet, this all simply isn't good enough when it's so very obvious how amazing an adaptation of Youth in Revolt this film could have been.
There's a moment when Nick, goaded by Francois, takes advantage of the insecurities of a bulimic in order to get her to put sedatives in another girl's morning coffee so she'll be forced to drop out of school. This one dark moment feels incongruous to everything else. Youth in Revolt ends up a pleasant, forgettable little film when it should have been the kind of artistic statement that could have had those of us that are part of the establishment concerned for the moral standing of the next generation. Too damn bad.