Sunday, January 17, 2010

Youth in Revolt – Fun for you and your alter ego

Some people are not meant to be bad. They go through life with this sense of right and wrong and can never blur the lines. Some people would have a hard time upsetting their parents. Most people are a little more morally gray, but I think most people would admit that the events of Youth in Revolt are beyond their comfort zone.

(not his thankfully)

Michael Cera tends to get typecast as the awkward, socially inept loser type who somehow always manages to get the girl, despite himself. His character in youth in revolt is not much different, but the differences are what make him so enjoyable. Nick Twisp (Cera) is 16, but he’s not like the other kids his age. He watches foreign films and listens to classic crooners (his favorite being Sinatra). His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother who’s currently in a “meaningful” relationship with Jerry (Zach Galfianakis) who we discover is about as trustworthy as an email from a deposed Nigerian prince. Upon learning that he sold a lemon of a car to some burly sailors the family figures now’s the best time to take a little vacation. Thankfully he has access to a trailer for a week.

Poor Nick is still a virgin. No women take him seriously. So it seems like fate when he meets Sheeni at the trailer park. Nick soon discovers that he and Sheeni have very similar interests. He learns that she is completely obsessed with the French and has glamour shots of Jean-Paul Belmondo on her wall. She fawns over breathless (one of my favorite films of the French new wave as well) and she loves Serge Gainsbourg. She’s an ideal woman for a boy like Nick and he knows this. Unfortunately we learn she has a boyfriend named Trent and by her description he’s a near perfect specimen of the classification Homo Sapien. There must be forces at work on Nick’s side though because before too long Nick and Sheeni are in love and Nick feels he has to do whatever he can (or whatever he must) to keep her.

The lovebirds devise a plan to get Nick kicked out of his mother’s house and Sheeni gets Nick’s dad a job close to where she lives. To this end Nick is forced to transform himself. He’s not the type of guy who gets in trouble so he feels he needs to create an alter ego to help him. Enter Francois Dillinger. Francois is everything Nick isn’t. He’s sure of himself and doesn’t stumble on his words. He abhors authority and lets the world know it as often as possible. Whenever Nick can’t get something done on his own he calls in Francois to do the dirty work. He succeeds by burning down half of the town and manages to get himself a whipping from mom's new man friend who's played by Ray Liotta, because of course Jerry died. Keeping in character we find out that Jerry was married and now Jerry's wife wants back his car.

sorry I forgot to mention you Vijay

Francois will also, hopefully, have one more consequence to his existence. I’m hoping that this will give Michael Cera some more diverse roles. It proves that he can perform characters that are more confident and maybe even playing characters that aren’t such lovable losers. That’s the great thing about Nick as well. He’s still a loser, but at least he’s cool. I mean, not mainstream cool, but there are subcultures out there that he’d fit right into. He’s such an interesting character that you spend the entire film rooting for him to win. I’m not going to say if he does or doesn’t, but it’s quite a roller coaster he puts himself through to get to the third act.

Youth in revolt, I suspect, will also be one of the most polarizing films out there this year. I don’t see anyone walking out of the theater saying to themselves “meh, whatever”. The hipster crowd is going to love it, but this is not the kind of film that I could see the average moviegoer enjoying. I’m actually a little surprised that this made it to the big screen at all. The target audience for this film is so small it is a little shocking that it ever got a green light. I happen to be amongst the target audiences so needless to say I loved it.

5 Mustachioed Alter Egos out of 5

Next Up: Bride wars – Can’t believe I watched that on purpose.

P.S. If you go and see this based on my recommendation, I don’t want to hear it if you didn’t like it. You were warned!

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