Let’s face the facts: if you’ve already jumped off the Michael Cera bandwagon, this movie will probably not prompt you to jump back on. However, if you’re still straddling the fence, you might be pleased to see that his character in Youth in Revolt is a natural progression for Cera. It is not a full disengagement from the characteristics that made him so endearing to begin with, but it adds a welcome new layer.
Youth in Revolt is based on the first book in a series by C.D. Payne, published in 1993. Touted as a relatable new voice for teenagers, the book’s protagonist Nick Twisp became a popular “Holden Caulfield” type for their generation.
Nick is an old soul in a teenager’s body, preferring French cinema and the crooning of Frank Sinatra to typical high school shenanigans. Consequently, he has few friends, and in lieu of any actual relationships with girls, he studies a well-worn sex manual, bracing himself for the fateful day when sex might become a reality.
As is typical of most teenage comedies, the adults in Nick’s life are a bunch of buffoons. His trashy but well meaning mother (Jean Smart) has a loser boyfriend, Jerry (Zach Galifianakis), who lives with them. She spends her days in bathrobes and negligees, sporting a different fake hairpiece every day, while Jerry wears a “three-wolf moon t-shirt” without a trace of irony, making them a trailer park couple of dazzling mediocrity.