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Youth in Revolt

Year: 2009
Production Co: Dimension Films
Director: Miguel Arteta
Writer: Gustin Nash
Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Justin Long, Rooney Mara, M Emmet Walsh

Most of this film looked like standard Michael Cera fare, but the aspect that set it apart was the alter ego character showing up to dispense advice to the nerdy, insecure Nick (Cera) to win over the girl he's pursuing, Sheeni (Doubleday).

I can see the reasons for not making the appearance of Francois so comically distinctive. Doing so would have turned it into a Frank Duigan/Adam Sandler comedy that lost all nuance. But if anything Francois' impact on the story and on Nick's journey wasn't strong enough, leaving it feeling a little like an aside. It left a lot of the movie a bit of a vacuum that only the quirkiness could fill, and we've seen far too many films trade on arthouse quirkiness alone.

And without that distinctive USP, Youth in Revolt is just another Michael Cera movie about a skittish, proto-Woody Allen obsessed with love and sex but with no faith in his ability to get any.

He goes on holiday to a lakeside trailer park with his loser mother and her manboy boyfriend (Galifianakis) and falls for the beautiful Sheeni in a heartbeat. Determined to do anything to stay with her, Nick starts taking advice from his imagined cooler self Francois, who leads him to any number of destructive and antisocial acts.

The irony is that little Francois advises seems to help and the sheer dedication Nick has to making Sheeni happy doesn't seem reciprocated by her. Maybe that's the point – no matter how desperate you are, keep your standards.

Cera is a likeable presence in any film though and his high-pitched, nervy sarcasm is enough to carry the movie. I'm not sure how long the shtick will last by itself though.

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