Thursday, September 2, 2010

Youth in Revolt

Directed by Miguel Arteta.
2010. Rated R, 90 minutes.
Michael Cera
Portia Doubleday
Jean Smart
Fred Willard
Zach Galifianakis
Ray Liotta
M. Emmet Walsh
Steve Buscemi
Justin Long

Nick Twisp (Cera) is a frustrated 16 year old virgin who’s only joy in life seems to be that his best friend has even less luck with the ladies than he does. That is, until he meets Sheeny (Doubleday), his one true love, thanks to some shady dealings by his mom’s boyfriend that causes the dysfunctional trio to go into hiding in a trailer park. Jean Smart and Zach Galifianakis play the mom and bf, respectively.

A few days later Nick learns he and his makeshift family will return to their home, thus separating him from Sheeny. Before he leaves, the lovebirds decide the only way for them to be together…well, it will apparently take a great deal of effort and involve Nick behaving very badly. The important part is this results in Nick creating Francois Dillinger, his own imaginary alter-ego (also played by Cera). When thinking of Francois, think a subdued version of Eddie Murphy’s Buddy Love from The Nutty Professor but visualize Cera with a thin mustache, wearing a tight white smoking jacket and of course, smoking.

From there, the movie shifts into another gear as Nick tries desperately to be reunited with the girl of his dreams, on multiple occasions. However, even as it does it sticks to its guns and the whole movie has a Steven Wright-esque deadpan delivery. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it were funnier. Actually, there are pockets where it is hilarious, but they’re few and far between. Most of the time, the jokes don’t hit the mark. And the whole alter-ego thing is a waste. We could have the exact same without him.

Nick’s relationships with his divorced parents are a blown opportunity. They could’ve had some wonderful developments or been mined even further, reaching new comic depths, or both. Sadly, they’re neither. Both his mother and father (Buscemi) are given great templates with which to start but hardly enough metal to fill the molds. It’s too bad because Smart turns in a great performance.

YIR wants to be witty and clever but it isn’t on an often enough basis. I’ve seen dozens of movies about teenage boys risking life and limb to get laid. This one fits snugly in the middle of the pack without the ability to separate itself.

The Opposite View: Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

What the Internet Says: 6.8/10 on (9/2/10), 68% on, 63/100 on

MY SCORE: 6/10

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