As a fan of Arrested Development, one of the few facts of life that consoled me after the show’s cancellation was that, not only would Michael Cera go onto star in films on his own; but it would serve as a decent opportunity to revisit his character from the late series. But one has to admit, the actor has been relying on George Michael’s likeness quite a bit. And he doesn’t try anything drastically new or different as the lead in his newest film, Youth In Revolt, as a high schooler trying to lose his virginity, already.
But Youth in Revolt also serves as a reminder that this is the role Cera was born to play. And sure, it’d be nice to see him do something a little different, but he can put enough of a panache on his characters to keep every part of his from rolling into one.
Cera stars as Twisp, a kid too interested in the films of Fellini and the songs of Sinatra to be interested in any old pedestrian female peer he might have. Other students call him gay, his only friend is abnormally obsessed with a girl, his mom is dating Zach Galifianakis, yeah, his life is kind of weird. So it’s like he wandered into a dream when he meets the francophile Sheeni. Herself the child of dysfunctional parents (hers are Jesus Freaks), her only outlet destructive creativity and driving her parents mad.
In the process of trying to be with and to win her, he’s forced to everything typical Michael Cera Character would never do – rebel, in the form of vandalism, arson, and knocking over a bowl of cereal. He’s aided through this transformation by an alternate personality he consciously creates, the expertly named Francois Dillinger, a badass complete with eerily bright eyes and a molestache. Caution thrown to the wind ensues, and it makes for some pretty decent laughs.
Based on the novel by C.D. Payne, Youth in Revolt is not unique for its coming-of-age tale, and it’s humor isn’t exactly revolutionary. But director Miguel Arteta brings it all together with ease – the supporting cast, with a zany Fred Willard and a frankly disinterested Jean Smart, is routinely hilarious, and the humor has an intellectualish enough bent that it avoids every being worn potty humor like you would expect in a Teen Sex comedy – no one has sex with a pie in this one. You’d have never thought the phrase “God’s Perfect Asshole” could be so funny without seeing the film.
But it’s led by Cera, who’s still at the top of his game in playing the awkward but affecting young man. It might get to the point that his reprisal of this character will get unbearable, but as of Youth in Revolt, it’s still effective and charming.