Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is a sex-obsessed teen who falls hopelessly in love with Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) while on a family vacation. Sheeni is a beautiful, free spirited girl, but family, geography and jealous ex-lovers conspire to keep these two apart.
Inspired by Sheeni's free spirit, Nick abandons his dull, predictable life and develops a rebellious alter ego, Francois. Francois will stop at nothing to be with Sheeni and leads Nick on a path of destruction and on the run from local law enforcement that has uproarious and unpredictable consequences.
Ever since 'Arrested Development,' Michael Cera has been in his own form of arrested development when it comes to the acting gigs he picked up. He's been catching a lot of flack lately for portraying essentially the same character over and over in films like 'Superbad,' 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist,' 'Juno,' and 'Paper Heart.' Ok, so the criticism is well deserved. Cera has been playing the same character again and again (and again and again to be precise), so the question going into this one is whether 'Youth in Revolt' is just more of his same old shtick?
Yes and no. Cera really is a good actor. I remember watching a special feature on one of the 'Arrested Development' DVDs where one of the showrunners explained that he thought Cera was the best actor of the bunch. He's got the timing and the quirky charisma to make it all work, but it's just starting to wear a little thin these days. When Nick Twisp (Cera) first appears on screen you may find yourself thinking, "Well, it's going to be another one of those "quirky" movies where he mumbles his way through lines and looks like he's about to blush whenever someone talks to him."
Nick is a scrawny teenager who's lost in a world of ignorant selfish people. Nick likes films by Fellini, but also finds time to consult his Hustler when the urge strikes. He's well written and thinks rather lyrically, as evident in his voice over narration throughout the film. Like many teenagers, Nick is obsessed with finding a girlfriend, but when he's living in a house with his deadbeat mom, Estelle, and her disgusting liar of a boyfriend, Jerry (Zach Galifianakis) there's just not much hope for him in the love department.
After Jerry has a run in with some unhappy customers who are mad that he sold them a car on the brink of breaking down, the whole lot of them flee to a trailer park in the mountains for a "vacation."
There Nick meets the love of his life, Sheeni (Portia Doubleday). A girl who's into all the unusual stuff he's into, like foreign films, vinyl, and the French. It's a match made in heaven, too bad Nick's got to go back home with his mom, leaving Sheeni all alone. But, they formulate a plan. Nick must be a bad guy in order to get kicked out of his house and go live with his dad near Sheeni. Only one problem, Nick is perennially a nice guy. Not a mean bone in his body. In order to be bad, Nick creates an alternate personality, Francois Dillinger. Francois has a small mustache, smokes, curses, and is irresistible to women.
This is where Cera shines. Nick is the character that Cera's always played; Francois is a different beast all together. It's fun to watch Cera embody the role of the douchey bad guy and excel at it. The scenes with Francois are definitely the best in the film.
There are a few moments where the pacing is thrown completely for a loop. I'm talking about the weird animated cut scenes that add nothing much to the movie other than to establish in our minds that we are watching a hip, slightly indie movie.
Overall, 'Youth in Revolt' is a fun movie. The clever writing garners quite a few laughs, and Cera has comic timing down to a science. It's his best quality. He's always been able to deliver funny awkwardness on cue, but it's nice to see him branch out, even if it's in the same movie. Kind of refreshing, and relieving to see he can do something different.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Youth in Revolt' sports a 50GB dual-layer disc. You must watch a few previews before you get to the menu, but the menu has a neat little feature that turns the music off. So if you have the menu on in the background the music doesn't keep playing.
'Youth in Revolt,' thanks to Sony, sports a slick 1080p transfer with an AVC encode. Framed in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture fills the screen with a colorful and finely detailed quality video presentation. Fine detail is nicely rendered, even small facial details like pores, hairs, and freckles are all readily visible. Colors are richly presented on a warm palette of soft tones. No colors ever really jump off the screen, but each are presented beautifully. Reds are deep, greens are lush, and browns are earthy. Fantastically colored all around. Blacks are never overly impressive, but there aren't too many dark scenes here anyway. There's a thin layer of grain, which is welcome in giving 'Youth in Revolt' that great cinematic look. This is a well done video presentation. Crisp, clean, and clear.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack isn't full of the sonic wonders of some of this year's action movies, instead 'Youth in Revolt's audio presentation is calm with hints of action. Dialog is crisp and intelligible, this is key because of Cera's tendency to whisper many of his lines – especially the punch lines. LFE is absent from the movie for the most part, except for an explosion, a car crash, and some of the accompanying music. Ambient sound seems a little absent, but then again many of the scenes aren't too crowded. Surround channels kicked in a did a great job during the big fire scene, but other than that, the rear channels are very subdued. This presentation has no serious flaws, it's just laid back and relaxed, although when it's called upon to perform, it does so with gusto.
'Youth in Revolt' isn't a perfect movie, but it's pretty good. Cera branches out a bit and becomes someone different. It's got some clever writing, annoying animated sequences, and a few plot holes that are never discussed (whatever happened to poor Bernice Lynch?). If you're tired of Michael Cera, you may want to skip this one, because Nick is the same character you've seen over and over, although the promise of Francois and his badass mustache may change your mind. The strong audio and visual elements serve the film well. This one comes recommended.