"Another coming of age film starring Michael Cera. Yawn. I can't wait."


That's what ran through my head when I was invited to see director Miguel Arteta's ('The Good Girl', 'Chuck & Buck') 'Youth In Revolt,' based upon C.D. Payne's novel. I feel like I've seen Michael Cera come of age so many times now that he should be 45 years old. Reluctantly, I drove to the movie lot to see a screening of the film. When I have to see a movie on a studio lot, I begin to panic. I am directionally challenged. Just seeing a map gives me an anxiety attack. The only way I find my way around Los Angeles successfully is knowing that I live south of the Santa Monica mountains. I am constantly looking for mountains to determine where I am.

When you arrive at a studio lot, filled with sound stages where films and television shows are in production, you are usually given directions like, "The screening is taking place in the "fill in the blank" screening room. Walk straight ahead. When you reach the giant black tarp, turn left. Keep walking. When you see a red sign on the corner of a large brown building, turn left. Walk 76 paces, spin around 5 times and then turn left. Turn right. Turn left. Walk 3 steps on a 37 degree angle to the northwest. Do a half turn to the right and you will arrive at the screening room."

"Another coming of age film starring Michael Cera. Yawn. I can't wait."


That's what ran through my head when I was invited to see director Miguel Arteta's ('The Good Girl', 'Chuck & Buck') 'Youth In Revolt,' based upon C.D. Payne's novel. I feel like I've seen Michael Cera come of age so many times now that he should be 45 years old. Reluctantly, I drove to the movie lot to see a screening of the film. When I have to see a movie on a studio lot, I begin to panic. I am directionally challenged. Just seeing a map gives me an anxiety attack. The only way I find my way around Los Angeles successfully is knowing that I live south of the Santa Monica mountains. I am constantly looking for mountains to determine where I am.

When you arrive at a studio lot, filled with sound stages where films and television shows are in production, you are usually given directions like, "The screening is taking place in the "fill in the blank" screening room. Walk straight ahead. When you reach the giant black tarp, turn left. Keep walking. When you see a red sign on the corner of a large brown building, turn left. Walk 76 paces, spin around 5 times and then turn left. Turn right. Turn left. Walk 3 steps on a 37 degree angle to the northwest. Do a half turn to the right and you will arrive at the screening room."

As I received my directions, my eyes must have gone blank. The lot's security guard asked, "Do you understand the directions?" I replied, "Yes, but if I get lost, don't be surprised if I end up walking accidentally on to one of your sound stages and starring in a television sitcom." Thankfully, though, I arrived at the screening room without making any mistakes. I took my seat among the other journalists who were all talking about their massive DVD collections sent to them by movie studios. Hmmm...really? I don't have a DVD collection. How do I get added to this privileged mailing list? Movie studios, if you're reading this, please send me movies.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

OK, so Michael Cera plays Nick Twisp, an awkward and cynical virgin teenager obsessed with girls, sex, Frank Sinatra and Frederico Fellini. Whenever a nerdy character is depicted as possessing old soul preferences in music and film, I am instantly suspicious. Are we supposed to like him more due to his refined taste? Is he not really a nerd and outcast, but instead just more mature than those his age, making it harder to connect to his teenage counterparts? Anyway, Nick is the son of divorced parents. He lives with his trailer trashy mom (played by Jean Smart) who is dating the even trailer trashier truck driver Jerry (played by Zach Galifianakis) who, after getting himself into trouble, decides they should all take off to a religious mobile home community in order to skip town for a while.


Though Nick is miserable living in a dingy trailer with his mom and Jerry, Nick's life takes a directional turn for the better when he meets the intellectual, free-spirited and beautiful Sheeni Saunders (played by newcomer Portia Doubleday), the teenage daughter of religious fanatics, who, like Nick, has superb taste in film and music coupled with a France obsession. The dreamy and liberal Sheeni feels trapped and bored in her religious life. Sheeni and Nick spend time together bonding over their shared esoteric artistic tastes. Of course.

As she becomes closer to Nick, Sheeni is deceptively coy, while Nick is clearly in love bordering upon obsessed with Sheeni. It isn't clear how much Sheeni likes Nick until vacation time is over and he is about to leave the trailer park and return home. Nick, who can't face a life without Sheeni, has to find his way back to her at any cost. Sheeni encourages him to do bad things in order to get kicked out of his house, so that he can return to her. And, so Nick develops an alter ego, Francois, a chain-smoking rebellious French teenage Tyler Durden equivalent.

Once Nick is back at his house, living with his co-dependent, can't-be-without-a-male-in-her-life mother who is now dating a cop (played by Ray Liotta), the trouble begins. Under Francois' guidance, Nick goes on a destructive bender, including stealing his mom's car and blowing it up in the centre of town, all in the name of love and returning to his precious Sheeni. Nick hopes to be kicked out of his home and sent to live with his father (played by Steve Buscemi) who is living with his much younger girlfriend close to the trailer park. When Nick's daredevil dreams finally come true and he goes to live with his dad, however, Nick's plan is foiled when Sheeni is then sent to boarding school upon his return. But, like any obsessed lover who loves Fellini, Nick will not be stopped. He will resort to any extreme to get to his precious Sheeni. In fact, he goes so far with his wild plan that it is too far even for Sheeni. Ah, the best-laid rash plans...

Now what? Was Nick's calamitous activity simply feckless or was it reckless with pending reward? Will Sheeni forgive Nick, the monster she helped to create? I'll let you figure that one out, since I don't want to ruin the ending. But, suffice it to say, your gut feeling is probably correct.

'Youth in Revolt', if nothing else, is fun with the odd clever line of dialogue. At the very least, it is darker than your average bubblegum teenage film, making it more enjoyable. The characters are mostly caricatures, but if you can watch it, knowing that it is likely that your belief will not be suspended, you can have a few laughs and be thankful that you are no longer a teenager and hopefully don't have to resort to blowing up cars to secure your relationship.

If you've already seen 'Avatar', 'Sherlock Holmes', and 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus', I'd say to go see 'Youth In Revolt.' If you haven't seen those other films, then I'd put 'Youth In Revolt' on your movie list, but nowhere near the top.

2 stars (out of 4).