The burgeoning actor, who visited Main Campus last week, stars in an irresistable comedy.
On the Youth in Revolt poster, Portia Doubleday looks like Lolita, donning red sunglasses and holding a red lollipop. One can see how she, as Sheeni Saunders, might lead the opposite sex into trouble as the young beauty of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel once did.
And lead them into trouble, Sheeni does. Nick Twisp, played by Michael Cera, who recently visited Main Campus to premier the film, falls for the 17-year-old free spirit and in an effort to win her affections and – more importantly to the virgin Nick – get into her pants, decides to rebel against the forces that keep them apart.
Youth in Revolt, Miguel Arteta’s adaptation of C.D. Payne’s novels about Nick Twisp’s adventures, features some of Cera’s best acting yet. In it, Arteta has mastered the art of taking the pain of young love and making it all at once realistic, touching, hilarious and outrageous.
The opening scene might scare timid viewers with Nick’s masturbating, but once they get past that, the film goes much quicker than some may want it to. There are enough sharp-witted one-liners to keep audiences laughing all the way through, while some scenes are rendered in a touching way.
Sheeni and Nick meet in Ukiah, Cali., where she lives and where he goes with his mother Estelle (Jean Smart) and her loser boyfriend Jerry (Zack Galifianakis of The Hangover) to escape three very angry Navy sailors out to get Jerry. And once they do, Nick is forever changed.
Convinced they can only be together if he misbehaves and gets sent to live in Ukiah, Nick decides to make as much trouble as possible. He is unable to act out on his own though, so he relies on his alter ego, Francois, to do the misdeeds he hopes will bring him and Sheeni together. This includes setting fire to most of Berkeley College, a $5 million dollar mess.
Francois – Cera wearing a faux mustache, brandishing a cigarette and dressed like a French dandy – is everything Nick isn’t: suave, sexy, good with women and completely reckless. And he is the kind of man Nick thinks Sheeni would fall for.
Only she already has a boyfriend. His name is Trent. He writes postmodernist poetry, speaks French and works at a magazine his father owns. He’s a dreamboat, but Sheeni is far from crazy about him.
Watching the movie, one may find it difficult to see how Nick could be foolish enough to continue to pursue Sheeni, despite her good looks, because she is so noncommittal and likes to remind him that she cannot wait around for him forever. But that seems to be the point of the film – no matter how someone treats us, we can sometimes be so blinded we do not realize we could do better.
Still, the film is irresistible. It is visually stunning, the costumes are gorgeous, and the writing is genius. And the cast is incredible. In addition to Cera, Doubleday, Smart and Galifianakis, there are Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Steve Buscemi and Fred Willard.
This movie will take you on adventures you may never have imagined but will want to experience again and again.
Make sure you read the books, too. Cera and Doubleday both said they took their roles because they loved the novels so much.
Rosella Eleanor LaFevre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.