Saturday, 15 August 2015

Youth In Revolt.

Title: Youth In Revolt
Director: Miguel Arteta
Released: 2009
Starring: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard

Plot: Nick Twisp (Cera) in a funk: unable to find a girlfriend while belittled over his love of classic cinema and easy listening records. However after meeting Sheeni, he creates a rebellious alter-ego named Francois Dillinger to help him win her away from her boyfriend.

Review:  Another of those films like "Drive" which was horribly misold to audiences, in this films case it was as another throw away teen comedy, let alone one featuring Zach Galifianakis who at this point was still riding high on the surprise success of “The Hangover”. What we get instead is something a lot more subtle and intelligent, while Galifianakis’s contribution here is little more than a glorified cameo.

Right from the start it’s clear that things are pretty crappy for Nick, as he has to endure his oversexed mother and her string of loser boyfriends while being generally belittled for his eccentric tastes by those around him, making his connection with kindred spirit Sheeni and winning her affections only the more important, while her love of Jean-Paul Belmondo unquestioning plays it part in his creation of his alter-ego, alongside the repeated pounding he gets for a trying be a nice guy as in this world nice guys unquestionably finish last.

Played in many ways like a wilderness years version of “Fight Club” here Cera pulls double duties as Nick which sees him once again working his usual awkward charms, while also getting to play his anarchic and permanently chilled, let alone pencil thin moustache wearing Francois as he constantly switches between the two character while occasionally being both at the same time. It’s a performance that is only heightened by Cera’s dry narration let alone the sheer don’t give a shit attitude of Francois who starts off smashing Nicks records and tossing over cereal bowls to quickly moving onto arson all with little concern for the consequences, especially when they befall Nick, even if he does take a belting for him the majority of the fallout of his actions falls on Nick.

Perhaps because the film features Cera playing a much different kind of role to what have become accustomed to seeing him playing, that the film is as much fun to watch let alone the fact that Francois essentially is Nick’s version of Tyler Durdan only with less of an interest in wide spread anarchy, but instead has more interest causing chaos whenever the opportunity presents itself rather than seeking it out. Luckily here these kinds of situations frequently present themselves, making it all the more baffling that Nick is able to get away with as much as he is.  

While the tone of the movie is frequently an uncomfortable one, especially when it comes to his home life reminisant of “Napoleon Dynamite” it only makes it all the more welcome when the film moves away from these areas and instead focuses on his complex relationship with Sheeni or him being led astray by Francois which also includes him leading Nick into using some truly filthy seduction techniques, during an ill-fated attempt to visit Sheeni at her all girl French speaking boarding school. Director Arteta’s shooting style meanwhile frequently keeps the film interesting as he mixes in random moments of animation, including a fun stop motion opening charting his journey to Jerry’s trailer, while avoiding the angry sailors Jerry has just ripped off shown here as an angry three headed giant.

The downside here though is that the film draws you in with its impressive cast list, only for most of them to be little more than cameo appearance with the exception of Buscemi who is on top shouty form as Nick’s dad who could be mistaken for being a more domesticated version of Seymour from “Ghost World”. Elsewhere Fred Willard gives us his usual stique as Nick’s neighbour and whose odd nature is really worked to its maximum potential.

While wrongly sold as just another summer teen comedy, this film is a lot smarter than you’d expect and one really carried by Cera who previously unseen range demonstrated here, makes me wonder what else he might be hiding in his actor toolbox. At the same time the film has such a fun anarchic spirit which when combined with its indie styling only makes it more of a shame that this film currently remains as under the radar as it does.  True towards the end it does feel like it is spinning its wheels for time, but largely this is a fun and original dark comedy that’s worth hunting down.

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