The movie “Youth in Revolt,” starring Michael Cera, puts a “Twisp” on an age-old plot in an attempt to revitalize the “nice guys can’t win” tale.
Cera plays Nick Twisp, who incidentally hates his last name. He is still a virgin and is slowly realizing that nice guys don’t get girls. While on a brief vacation stay in a trailer home, Nick meets “Sheeni” Saunders and instantly falls in love.
Sheeni lives in a deluxe trailer home complete with a hymn-playing doorbell and outrageously religious parents. As most teenagers do, she hates her family and finds escape in vintage French culture.
Therein lies the key to her heart, Nick decides, and he creates an alter ego for himself named Francois Dillinger, a moustache-wearing, white slacks-clad, cigarette-smoking bad boy who encourages Nick to do outrageous things to win over the girl of his dreams.
Although the film boasts a cast full of established personalities including Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Steve Buscemi and Ray Liotta, Cera is the true star of the show, and the other actors’ roles are adjusted accordingly.
Do not expect the Galifianakis role from “The Hangover” as the trailer suggests. This is Cera’s show entirely and the supporting cast members get only a few memorable scenes before each backs out of the spotlight.
Cera maintains his trademark subdued nature and gets laughs as he mumbles clever quips under his breath. His style is slow and deliberate and requires a patient audience.
However, the alter ego character gives him a chance to rebel from that typecasting and, although Francois is a selfish fabrication with a dirty mouth, he is played as Nick would envision the type of man who attracts women.
That is what makes the dual role so funny and absurd; Francois is a bizarre and unrealistic character, but his advice, no matter how insane, produces results.
Animation appears several times throughout the movie, both through drawn images and clay figures molded to look like the cast members. At first it is jarring and seems unnecessary to the plot, but it aids in the comedy and style of the film and does not take away from the fulfilling nature of the story.