Friday, January 15, 2010

Youth In Revolt (Plus bip-bip. Turns 100)

Before we get to the review, bip-bip. would like to thank its readers for continuing to visit (and hopefully read) our little blog over the past few months. This post actually marks the blog's 100th, and, while that is a relatively small number in the world of blogging, we're still pretty excited about hitting the milestone and about the blog's progress to this point. Hopefully this is just the beginning. Now on to more important matters...

Youth in Revolt was much better than I expected it to be. I really didn't have high expectations. I didn't think director Miguel Arteta's The Good Girl was very good, and I've never seen any of his other work. I also had doubts that Michael Cera would be able to carry a movie on his own. Even though I can't really fault those who don't like him because he basically plays the same shy-and-insecure-yet-awkwardly-charming-and-secretly-cool character in everything he does, I still really like Cera. But he's always been part of a leading duo (i.e., with Jonah Hill in Superbad and with Jack Black in Year One) instead of the sole leading man.

But I was wrong. Michael Cera was more than capable of carrying the movie. Maybe it's because there was more than one of him (the movie's premise revolves around him creating an alter ego, Francois) or maybe it's because he had such a great supporting cast helping him out. But he definitely delivered. He plays 16-year-old Nick Twisp, an outcast and a virgin. When Nick goes with his mother (Jean Smart) and her boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis) on a trip to her boyfriend's "lake cabin" (it is actually just a trailer in a trailer park by the lake), he meets and instantly falls in love with Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), a local girl whose interests and personality would seem likely to maker her an outcast as well but who has somehow managed to become popular and win the heart of the most popular guy in school. But after they get to know each other, Nick is able to steal Sheeni's heart as well. And, although they've only known each other for a week when Nick has to go back home with his mom, they decide they must be together again.

To facilitate their reunion, the two hatch a plan whereby Sheeni will find a way to get Nick's dad (Steve Buscemi) a job close to her home. In the meantime, Nick will misbehave as much as possible to get himself thrown out of his mom's home and sent to live with his dad. We're not talking about simply misbehaving at home -- Nick, by creating an the alternate personality Francois that I mentioned earlier, does some pretty outrageous stuff. And, although Nick ends up getting sent to live with his father, things don't end up going exactly as planned. Nick/Francois's actions end up making him a wanted criminal, and things really get out of hand.

As I said earlier, Cera really delivers. His early narration in the movie sets the tone, and he continues to constantly provide laughs throughout the whole film. The supporting cast was also great -- especially Fred Willard as Nick's weird immigrant-smuggling neighbor Mr. Ferguson and Adhir Kalyan as Vijay Joshi, a friend of Nick's from school who tags along with Nick on a pretty crazy adventure to go see Sheeni and her "loose" friend Taggarty (Rooney Mara). There is one scene in particular, where the three characters (Cera, Willard, and Kalyan) are all together, that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Of course, a lot of the credit belongs to the writing. Even though the movie dealt with subjects audiences have seen time and again (teen wants to lose virgnity, teen rebelling against parents, etc.), it somehow manages to make its jokes seem very fresh and original. It made me want to check out the source material, C.D. Payne's novel of the same name. The soundtrack was also pretty good. There were a couple of scenes where the movie switched from real life to different styles of animation that I didn't really like or think were worth anyone's time. But other than that, I have no real complaints.

Bottom line: This was a solid comedy. Cera and his supporting cast were much better than I expected. Check it out. (B)

Here's the preview:


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