Movie News & Reviews

'Youth in Revolt' lacks enough humor

There's something ridiculous about building a celebrity millionairemovie career around playing awkward, nerdy, no-friends virgins.

That's like convincing all your neighbors to go green and give uptheir SUVs, then scooping up their Expeditions to open a used car lot.Or using your fame as a trophy dinosaur hunter to lobby for thecreation of a prehistoric ASPCA. After a while, you really have tochoose one path or the other, or at least you would if you weren't sobusy plunging wads of twenties down your money-well (this is how thesmart rich invest) to have to worry about anything.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Along with the "I've seen this before" factor, that's probably why I'mno longer jazzed about seeing Michael Cera's name attached to aproject. That and I'm a fickle, easily bored consumer who demandsconstant variety out of my entertainment slaves! So it's no wonder thenewest "Michael Cera struggles to get laid" joint, Youth inRevolt, thoroughly failed to arouse my overstimulated attentionspan.

On the run from angry sailors, Cera's mom takes them to a lakesidecampsite to wait for the heat to die down. There, Cera meets andinstantly falls in love with Portia Doubleday, the intellectual equalto his wimpy, hypersmart virgin.

When it's time to go home, their budding relationship may be broughtto an end. But if they can get Cera moved to Doubleday's town — ascheme that involves alter egos, felony arson and the wrangling ofDoubleday's fundamentalist parents — they may just have a chance.

Unfortunately, I never gave a damn whether they got back together ordied alone in separate nests of French poetry and sadness. Cera andDoubleday share so little initial screen time their week togetherfeels more like they brushed shoulders on a sidewalk. I get this isteenage love, meaning it defies even the already-loose rules of normallove (had to rephrase that from "adult love"), so it's not that Idon't believe they could fall for each other so fast. I just don'tknow them well enough to care.

Also, they're pretty much jerks. There's a thin line betweenshenanigans and sociopathy. Even within the removed context ofmovie-watching, where I'll lustily cheer the bloody deaths of, well,everyone, I couldn't get behind Youth in Revolt's unrelentinglyselfish characters.

As usual, if they'd been funny, it would have been a different story.Humor excuses everything. The Producers made Hitler funny. Youcould get away with using a team of chained toddlers as sled dogs solong as you told some good jokes while you were mushing around. Or atleast made your team wear funny hats.

It isn't entirely laughless. Cera's alter ego — a suave badboy namedFrancois Dillinger — has some funny scenes, and a supporting caststocked with ringers such as Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, FredWillard, and M. Emmet Walsh contributes, too.

But Cera's character breaks less ground than a Nerf shovel, and arushed, abrupt, episodic, convoluted plot tries to cram too much ofits source novel into 90-odd minutes of movie. Somehow, it allmakes sense, which is a credit to director Miguel Arteta. It's justnot really worth paying the attention necessary to follow along.

Grade: C-