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‘Youth in Revolt,’ a different kind of romantic comedy

 “Youth in Revolt” is the film adaptation of the book of the same name, centered around the socially inept Nick Twisp (Michael Cera), who, while on a family vacation, falls in love with a free-spirited girl named Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). However, after their summer fling, Sheeni reveals to Nick that when he leaves she doesn’t want to be held down by the ties of a long-distance relationship. Sheeni, who is understandably apprehensive, tells Nick that she wants to be with him anyways and the two lovers devise a plan to be able to stay together.
“You have to be bad, Nicky,” Sheeni says, “Be very, very, bad.”
The love-struck boy without a backbone agrees and creates an alternate persona named Francois Dillinger, a foul mouthed, chain smoking, delinquent. With Francois’ help, Nick hopes to get kicked out of his home and sent back to his dad’s to be with Sheeni again. Similar to the remake of the “Parent Trap” with Lindsey Lohan, Cera plays Dillinger and Twisp at the same time, offering an interesting take at what would otherwise been a disturbing account of split-personality disorder.
With that said, this coming-of-age comedy thrives on the audience’s preconceived notions about Michael Cera. As an actor, he has never strayed too far from the innocent, awkward teenager role. As Francois, Cera dons a dirty looking mustache and declares without inhibition to Sheeni that “I want to tickle your belly button – from the inside.”
Although rude and rebellious, Francois’ personality aids Cera in delivering an awesome performance. The only problem is that we really don’t get to see Francois as much as we might like. Luckily, Nick Twisp has his moments as well, but I’m personally getting tired of Cera playing the same type of role.
As Nick’s counterpart, Portia Doubleday shines through as Sheeni, with “Youth in Revolt” being her big-screen debut. My fear at the beginning of the film was that Sheeni would be portrayed as just a pretty face, to the point that Nick might ignore any shallow short comings, and fall in love based on the fact that this was the first girl to give him any attention. Thankfully, Sheeni  is not shallow, and is in fact someone relatable. She’s not like Nick though (aside from their love of vinyl records and obscure poetry), and I think that’s why the two are so fun to watch on screen.
In one scene, Sheeni asks Nick to rub suntan lotion onto her “exposed areas,” and then teases him for being turned on so easily. It’s this kind of interaction that I found fresh and charming. For those who are looking for a romantic comedy, you really aren’t getting that. Instead you are getting a comedy that just so happens to have a romantic relationship holding it together. In fact, “Youth in Revolt” is surprisingly raunchy in some scenes, especially during a sexually-explicit hallucination Nick experiences due to Francois making Nick take more shrooms than originally recommended.
For those who are skeptical, yes, there are some shortcomings. The first is that this film has a familiar tone (spoiler alert), being the third or fourth film starring Cera losing his virginity in the span of only a few years. The question is not whether or not the premise is getting old, because it is, but rather when it will become intolerable. Cera is 21 years old and I hope that he makes the leap into adult roles that allow him to grow more as an actor. In the case with “Youth in Revolt,” I rarely found myself being annoyed at Cera, but others might have already had their fill of him playing the nerdy outcast.
The other problem is that the film ends suddenly. As someone who did not read the book, it is my understanding that there are a few sequels. I really hope there is a sequel to the film, as I think it deserves one, but as of right now one has not been announced.
In all, “Youth in Revolt” delivers an original take on the lengths that some will go to be with the one they love. Nick’s adventures along the way are the paste that holds the film together. From burning down half of Berkley, to becoming a fugitive from the law, Nick Twisp is hopelessly devoted to being as bad as he can be, so long as he is able to reunite with his one true love. With an awesome supporting cast in tow (Justin Long, Zach Galifianakis, and Steve Buscemi), “Youth in Revolt” is a fun film that leaves you wanting more. On a scale of one to a hundred, I would give “Youth in Revolt” an 88/100.

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