Saturday, February 06, 2010

YOUTH IN REVOLT - affected nonsense

YOUTH IN REVOLT is an 89 minute quirky hipster comedy that felt like it last three hours, irritated me with its affectations, and didn't make me laugh. It stars Michael Cera as the same character he always plays - an unthreatening, horny teenage boy, desperately courting a cooler girl who stoops to conquer on account of his taste in films and music or whatever. It's the same schtick that was cute in JUNO, became less so in NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, positively irritated in PAPER HEART, and really, really pissed me off here. He needs to stretch himself and try something different. Or at least deign to inflect his voice on occasion.

Anyways, in this particular film, Cera plays a kid called Nick Twisp, a sensitive loner who has good manners, likes Sinatra, and wants to travel the world. He meets the girl of his dreams and, hipsters being self-involved, she's his female double - an unthreatening hipster loner who dreams of a tall French boyfriend. Both of these kids speak like no-one you've ever heard of, and hatch up plots that are contrived and distancing, including getting expelled, trashing several cars, and drugging people. Of course, Nick Twisp doesn't really need a double to end his loneliness - he already has the voices in his head - his bad alter-ego, European play-boy Francois, and his feminine alter-ego Carlotta. Stop me if I'm freaking you out.

I think we're meant to find the incidental characters amusing - Ray Liotta as the sleezy cop; Zach Galifianakis as the loser boyfriend; Steve Buscemi as the dad; Fred Willard as the liberal neighbour; Justin Long as the doped up brother - but I found them to be under-used and unfunny. I can't disguise how tired I am of Cera. But I guess my real problem is with Gustin Nash's script based on C.D.Payne's novels. This film is too absurd to get emotionally involved in, but not stylised enough to be as good as, say, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS.

YOUTH IN REVOLT played Toronto 2009 and is currently on release in the USA, Canada and the UK.

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