Ah, what one can do for love. Based on the novel by C.D. Payne, Miguel Arteta's Youth in Revolt tells of a one man, or two if you like, tour de force hell bent on forging his own path toward his loved one, regardless of whether he has to burn down half a city to get to his prize. It's a full on comedy about the impetuousness of youth under influences of American Pie proportions, who happens to be personified by the meek virgin boy Nick Twisp, played none other by Michael Cera.
Cera has this corner of the market monopolized. If anyone's looking for "meek", or "by the book", or wants someone with that worrying look, then he's the go-to person at the moment. But this film provides an opportunity for him to play something of the exact opposite, that of an imaginary French romantic lover with that debonair flair, Francois Dillinger, made up to take over his subconscious because the girl of his dreams Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) happens to like all things French, from the language to music.
The film chronicles the desperation of Cera's Twisp in hell bent of not wanting to be a virgin any longer, but for his lack of an alpha-status, he finds this objective quite close to naught, until mom Estelle (Jean Smart) and her boyfriend of the moment Jerry (Zach Galifianakis) decide to hide out in a trailer park, and it is there that he got swept away by the girl who decided to pay him a little bit more attention than he ever got his whole life. Then it becomes a road trip movie of sorts back and forth, when the Twisps have to relocate, and Nick has to plot a way to get back to his lady love, who's whisked off to a boarding school.
Part of the fun here is to journey with Nick in his single minded objective of being led by his prick to get laid, and in doing so, with the help of his alter-ego, he gets from trouble to more trouble, each building on the previous in terms of the scale of destruction he left in his trail, culminating in something of an unbelievable and unfortunate betrayal, with morality thrown out the window. He becomes what he loathes, just because the good guys don't get the girls, and girls of his age are after the bad boys. Cera excels in being, well, Cera, complete with his signature irrepressible adlibbing, and while some moments may have you wincing, others may cement his knack for great comedic timing.
The casting's the other thing that made this film a fun one to sit through, with the supporting roles being quite random, and peppered with the likes of Steve Buscemi as Nick's dad, Fred Willard as the overly helpful neighbour, Ra Liotta as an opportunistic cop and Justin Long being the brother of Nick's loved one, who's a mushroom junkie, spreading the need for a high to folks around him. Adhir Kalyan's Vijay Joshi though seems like a more intellectual Harold from Harold and Kumar, driven though not by weed but by the opposite sex, and playing up on the Indian stereotype unfortunately.
The film runs a breezy 90 minutes with two animated portions in the opening credits, and one segment of a road trip. But with no disrespect, while all the others can possibly be replaced by substitute actors, Cera marquees the film because he stood out in a role that seemed tailor made for him. He is in danger of getting pigeon-holed and stereotyped (or already is!), but I guess for fans, this is something that they will not get enough of.