Youth in Revolt
Despite what everyone hears about the rampant sexual activity among today’s teenagers, there are undoubtedly still a huge number of young men who have Nick Twisp’s (Michael Cera) dilemma. He says, “The issue can no longer be ignored: I’m still a virgin. To be honest, I have never even kissed a woman to whom I was not related by blood or marriage.” As this quote might indicate, this is a funny, entertaining coming-of-age comedy of adolescent rebellion and obsession with sex.
Based on C.D. Payne’s novels, Nick, whose selfish, dysfunctional parents are divorced, meets a gorgeous young woman, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) on a family vacation. Sheeni is a woman who would make any man’s hormones jump. She is, in a word, inscrutable. Naturally, Nick falls head over heels for her, but fate keeps them apart. Sheeni encourages Nick to broaden his life so he develops a rebellious alter ego, humorless, mustachioed, cigarette-smoking, evil Francois Dillinger, who will stop at nothing to be with Sheeni.
Influenced by Francois, Nick becomes one of the more complicated protagonists one will find on screen. He does some really deplorable things, but, due mostly is his phlegmatic attitude, Cera still makes him sympathetic.
Neither of Nick’s parents, Estelle (Jean Smart) and George (Steve Buscemi) care a whit about Nick. Worse, they don’t display any moral fiber that Nick can emulate. Estelle is shacking up with a goofy boyfriend, Jerry (Zach Galifianakis), then a corrupt cop, Lance Westcott (Ray Liotta). His father, George, is shacked up with a young chick. Nick is all alone. And then he meets Sheeni, who has a similar problem with her parents, who are painted as hypocritical religious fanatics, a favorite whipping boy for the Hollywood left.
Directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Gustin Nash, one of the movie’s strengths is the quality of its cast. Cera gives a breakout performance, but the actors around him, Doubleday, Smart, Buscemi, Galifianakis, Liotta, and Fred Willard all give rewarding performances.