Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Youth in Revolt (**1/2)

Youth in Revolt. 90 mins. R. Directed by Miguel Arteta. Written by Gustin Nash. Starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Justin Long, Zach Galifianakis, and Ray Liotta.

Surprise! Michael Cera stretches (slightly) as Francois Dillinger, the brash, crude, and ever-so-French imagined alter ego of Nick Twisp (also Cera, not stretching at all). Cera usually lifts up any project with his impeccable comedic timing, and Youth In Revolt is no exception. As directed by The Good Girl's Miguel Arteta, the movie plays like a Wes Anderson movie without the style. Most of the characters deliver their lines in a straight-faced, archly ironic manner, and we're supposed to laugh at their calm in the face of absurdity. What little there is of a plot concerns Nick falling for dream girl Sheeni Saunders, and trying to lose his virginity. That is what leads him to create Francois, but not much happens after he does. There's nothing major going on here, and the movie knows it. To compensate, Arteta casts a ton of familiar funny faces in small, supporting roles: The Hangover's Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, and Justin Long, among others. These are all funny people, and Youth in Revolt has its share of laughs, but the plot is wispy and individual scenes feel unconnected to each other, not part of an organic whole. The movie is also prone to using random animation for certain scenes, if for no other reason than to be quirky and hipster cool. Youth in Revolt is a minor comedy, entertaining enough for the January doldrums but easily forgettable after that.

- John


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