"Michael Cera's 'Youth In Revolt' takes Cera's persona to the extreme." – DVD Review

Michael Cera is not everyone's cup of tea. His fey, nonchalant nebbish-ness is a put off for some but not for me. From “Arrested Development” to “Superbad” to now “Youth in Revolt” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” Cera's persona has become a wonderful comic tool that he wields with precision. It's fair to say that “Youth in Revolt” takes the Michael Cera persona to an extreme but it worked for me and will work for anyone who counts them a Cera fan.

Michael Cera stars in “Youth in Revolt” as Nick Twisp, a shy young man living with his slatternly mother (Jean Smart) and her loser boyfriend of the moment, Jerry (Zach Galifianakis). When Jerry gets in trouble with some local tough the 'family' has to go on the run. They take refuge in a trailer park where Nick spies the girl of his dreams, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday).

Sheeni initially has no interest in Nick but his persistence is flattering and eventually she gives him a break but only after he becomes the bad boy of her dreams. Nick is no bad boy but when he manages to tick off Sheeni's parents it begins an unintended reputation that Nick must foster in order to keep Sheeni's attention.

After Jerry disappears Nick is forced to return home. Once there and torn from his beloved Sheeni, Nick must hatch a plan, a plan that will allow him to move back. This elaborate fiasco involves getting his dad (Steve Buscemi) a job and a place to live near the trailer park. Then, he has to convince his mom to kick him out and force him to live with dad. The ways in which Nick goes about this are part of a tricky, gloriously odd series of events that make up the plot of “Youth in Revolt.”

Director Miguel Arteta brings wonderfully subtle rhythm to some rather outlandish scenes and the conflict between the tone and the happenings in “Youth in Revolt” somehow emerges charming and very funny. The ways in which the direction is passive and the action is not clash so perfectly that if pushed in a more or less active direction the movie would tumble over.

Strangely, while the role of Nick Twisp seems custom built for the Michael Cera persona; “Youth in Revolt” is actually based on a series of novels from the early 1990's from writer C.D Payne. I have never read the novels but according to those who have it is as if Nick Twisp predicted Michael Cera and waited for his arrival before he could be brought to the big screen.

There is no other actor who could bring Nick Twisp to life other than Michael Cera. The changes of persona, the ways in which Nick imagines a more confident version of himself named Francois Dillinger, these are seemingly natural shifts for Michael Cera that would seem like comic extensions for other actors. Cera makes the move organic as if creating Francois came from his own mind.

People tend to see the Michael Cera persona as an example of limited range. I however, feel that what Michael Cera does on screen is quite challenging. He's like a modern day Chaplin carrying The Tramp persona from film to film, giving him different dimensions and playing him against different backgrounds and characters to a new and wonderful comic effect.

Watch Michael Cera in interviews and then watch Michael Cera in movies and on TV and you get the full picture of the Michael Cera character. It is as if his entire career was a performance art piece that he keeps spinning out further in role after role with different names but always the same character in a new and fascinating comic context. It's rather genius if you like what Michael Cera does.

If you aren't a fan then you will call it limited range and dismiss Cera as some one note performer. I happen to be a huge fan and I love his work more and more each time out and I feel like I am in on a wonderful running gag that never stops and grows more and more fascinating with each role. One of these days the Michael Cera persona is going to hit upon a role that will cross over from just funny to poignant and even moving and more people will begin to get it. “Youth in Revolt” likely isn't that movie but for fans it's enough for now.


Sean Patrick Kernan is a film critic. Check him out at: http://www.myspace.com/number1ramjamfan Email Sean at sean@zoiksonline.com.
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