Michael Cera plays Nick Twisp. An awkward 16 year old who is stuck in a broken dysfunctional home. Estelle, his mom (played by Jean Smart)is unemployed, dependent on the child support checks she collects from Nick’s dad George (Steve Buscemi). Estelle mainly focuses her attention on her truck driver boyfriend Jerry (Zach Galifianakis), who doesn’t really want anything to do with Nick, and George is mainly focused on his girlfriend, who isn’t much older than Nick himself.
A botched deal of Jerry’s leads him to flee town for a week with Estelle and Nick in tow. Taking refuge in a trailer park, Nick meets the girl of his dreams, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Sheeni is everything Nick wants. She’s smart, insightful and ambitious. She also has a boyfriend. Nick, knowing he must do what it takes to win Sheeni over, develops an alter ego, Francois Dillinger. Francois is all of the things that Nick isn’t. He’s daring and willing to do the things that Nick won’t. Suffice it to say, Francois gets Nick into heaps of trouble, all to win the heart of Sheeni.
I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t go into any more detail than I already have. Let’s run down the details of the film.
As I mentioned, the cast bench for this was pretty deep. Not only were the above mentioned in it, but Justin Long, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, M. Emmet Walsh and Mary Kay Place were all in it as well. Most of the characters were bit parts next to Nick and Sheeni. I actually expected to see more of Zach Galifianakis since I felt they hyped him up in the trailers.
Michael Cera is great at playing the awkward teen boy type, but the problem in that, is that all of his roles will start to resemble one another. I would really like to seem him play against type just to see what would happen. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, I just want something different on occasion. Seeing him play Francois was a bit of a change, but you could still feel that Cera-esque quality.
Portia Doubleday did a good job with Sheeni as well. She came off older than her age, which was in line with the character and was able to navigate Sheeni’s dialogue easily. She approached what I can only describe as a blasé calmness.
The rest of the cast were well placed, but I would have liked to have seen more. I felt Zach Galifianakis was under used and I would have also liked to see more of Steve Buscemi.
The film was well paced. It didn’t feel too long or too short and at no time was I looking at my watch wishing it would end. There is enough going on to keep it interesting, but not too much to be overbearing.
The comedy is abundant as well. Given, some of the laughs are out of discomfort, but it’s funny none the less and since everyone else was laughing, I didn’t feel like I was the only one with a warped sense of humor.
The film was inter-cut with bits of animation as well which took me by surprise. One part utilized clay-mation, while another part reminded me more of the opening credits to Juno. It was an interesting mix and a fun way to break up the film.
The one thing I can say is I felt like I got a different package than what the trailer suggested. Mind you, I’m not disappointed at all. I was expecting some raunchy teen comedy, and in some aspects that is what I got. But the film was much more endearing than I had expected and while it may fall flat with some, I found it to be a fun way to spend 90 minutes.
Youth in Revolt is directed by Miguel Arteta and will be released in the UK on February 5th.