'Youth in Revolt' leaves critic in revolt

January 8, 2010 

Teen love and rebellion are just two of the subjects of the Michael Cera star-vehicle Youth in Revolt.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

He plays Nick Twisp, a kid uncertain of his place in the world. Twisp creates an alter ego, the bold and fearless Francois Dillinger to help him commit crimes to get the girl of his dreams.

Also played by Cera, the two characters share less than lively screen time.

Hitting themes familiar to most twenty-somethings, Youth in Revolt is not-so-scathing satire based on three of C.D. Payne’s popular books. The angst of self identity, not-fitting in with others, divorce, step-parents, distant parents, overly protective and non-understanding parents, sexual frustration and first love, drugs, popularity, school and a willingness to commit crimes for love and God knows what else are all hit hard in Gustin Nash’s excellent screenplay and TV director Miguel Arteta’s first major movie.

The script is brilliant. A bevy of talented role players back Cera and newcomer Portia Doubleday: Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Zack Galifianakis and the always funny, Fred Williard who delivers the film’s funniest lines.

A great concept that is wonderfully executed is thrown completely away by the miscasting of one character. Youth in Revolt?

Forget that. Let’s focus on critic in revolt. Even a little Cera is too much.

Early in his career, we were charmed. Cera possesses a certain geeky cool. Some want to shelter and protect him in a motherly way. Others want to do him physical harm. After a couple of big roles — the boyfriend in Juno, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Year One — the Cera mystique is starting to crack. Some find Cera’s whispy voice and comedy schtick akin to fingernails scraping a chalkboard. I’m in that camp.

Cera is more than just mildly irritating and ruins what could have been a great January movie.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language and drug use. It opens Friday, Jan. 8 at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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