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Philly2Philly Reviews Youth In Revolt

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At first glance, Youth In Revolt  doesn't appear to be anything overly special. It's yet another teenage coming of age movie starring Michael Cera, who has basically worn the genre out all by himself. The story, while slightly quirky, isn't groundbreaking, and trailers didn't exactly reveal it to be a very effective comedy. However, the truth is, under the care of several excellent creative hands, those of Director Miguel Artega, screenwriter Gaston Nash, and Cera himself, Youth In Revolt ranks up there with best of the decade. Youth In Revolt

Cera stars as Nick Twisp, an awkward teenager who lives at home with his white trash mom (Jean Smart), continually going from man to man completely unaware of Nick's needs or his transition into adulthood. His dad, George (Steve Buseumi), isn't much better, who is far away in Florida with a live in girlfriend, and not much connection to his son's life. Most of the time, Nick hangs out with his best friend Lefty, a scattered kid obsessed with sex.

Nick's world (and libedo) is turned upside down when he meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), a neighborhood bad girl who seduces Nick even though she has a boyfriend. The two start to hang out on a regular basis, and even though she has a boyfriend, Nick is soon jumping through hoops at her every command. Yes, it seems like true love, that is until Sheeni's born again parents get wind and send her off to a boarding school in California. Thus, Nick embarks on a road trip in order to win the girl's heart and hopefully loose his virginity in the process.

The twist in the story comes with Nick's invention of his own alter ego, brought on due to a lack in confidence that he can actually win over the girl. His new imaginary persona, Francois Dillinger, is a real bad boy to match Sheeni's rebel, equipped with a foul mouth, overly sexual confidence, and a penchant for blowing up things. Thus, the two personas at war with each other travel off to California, wreaking havoc along the way and trying to avoid being arrested before deflowering their true love.

Truly, one cannot say enough great things about Youth In Revolt. Perhaps it's best to start with the script and direction. Gustin Nash, who converted a sprawling novel written by C.D. Payne, has apparently achieved a feat in itself with the source material. The book was reportedly not adaptable, and no doubt changes were made, but the movie remains a success. The dialogue is terrific; sharp, witty, and hilarious, echoing Diablo Cody without the desperate pop culture taint. The direction by Miguel Artera, is also very assured and capable. Youth In Revolt

Most importantly, however, hats off to Michael Cera and a great cast. Cera could literally sleepwalk through a part like this, but he truly brings it to a new level. The film is the absolute perfect vehicle for the actor, completely highlighting all of his strong points, while making him more likable than ever. He also brings some nice edge as Francois, the alter ego. The rest of the cast is excellently chosen, with a terrific comic performance in Jean Smart as the white trash mom, Steve Buscemi as the loser father, and Adhir Kalyan  as Nick's road trip partner. The only weak link, if any, comes in Portia Doubleday, who plays Sheeni. The character is supposed to be a real bad ass, but overall she doesn't hit the mark, coming off flat and too soft around the edges.

Youth In Revolt couldn't have arrived at a better time. It's a breath of fresh air in a recent shortage of great teen movies. Whether it stands as a film to close out 2009, or the one that stars off the new decade with a bang, it will likely remain one of the best out there. It's a fantastically written, funny film with a dark edge and a dynamic performance by Michael Cera, who may indeed be the John Cusak  of his generation.