Michael Cera, a popular, soft-spoken young actor, plays the same nice guy character in nearly all of his movies, no matter if it is the teen comedy Superbad or the critically-acclaimed Juno. For Youth in Revolt, a starring vehicle for Cera, the actor plays against type as a good kid who takes a walk on the wild side. Unfortunately, Cera as a bad boy is just bad.
Michael Cera splits his personality during Youth in Revolt
Now available on DVD and Blu-ray, Youth in Revolt tells the story of Nick Twisp (Cera), a good kid who lets life happen to him instead of seizing the day. As exciting as a cold bowl of oatmeal, Nick lives with his divorced mother (Jean Smart) and Jerry (Zach Galifianakis), her boyfriend of the month.
After Jerry gets in trouble with some sailors, Nick and his dysfunctional family leave town until things calm down. This unplanned vacation introduces the soft-spoken Nick to Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), a pretty girl from a very strict family. Nick falls head-over-heels for Sheeni, but the object of his affection is looking for an idealized French bad boy, something Nick definitely is not.
To win her love, Nick creates Francois Dillinger, a “supplemental personality” that smokes, talks dirty and causes property damage. As Francois, Nick burns down most of his hometown in an effort to get closer to Sheeni. Unfortunately, Nick’s bad behavior puts him on a path to prison instead of the arms of the girl he loves.
Even with two personalities, Cera can’t lead a successful Revolt
Michael Cera is a likeable enough actor, but he seems dreadfully out-of-place in Youth in Revolt, especially playing two separate roles. Cera plays Nick Twisp as a nice, respectful guy who could benefit from some solid role models in his life. All Nick has, however, is a mother on the prowl, an absentee father (Steve Buscemi) and a never-ending stream of boyfriends. For young Nick, the face at the other end of the breakfast table typically is a surprise each morning.
Youth in Revolt also has Cera playing both sides of his tortured psyche. This seems like a clever idea at first, but it quickly becomes obvious that Cera can’t channel his inner bad boy enough to play the Francois character. Instead of having Cera act opposite himself, casting a young French actor as Francois may have worked better.
The special features are the only saving grace for Youth in Revolt
If you manage to watch Youth in Revolt all the way through, the special features available on the DVD and Blu-ray editions are somewhat rewarding:
• Audition scenes. This section contains raw audition footage of Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday and other cast members from Youth in Revolt. It is intriguing to go behind the scenes and watch the performers reading their lines off a script, especially in scenes that appear in the final cut of the film. Cera and Doubleday’s reading together seems a bit awkward, though, since both actors are sitting on the floor instead of the bed that’s supposed to be in their scene.
• Deleted scenes. Typically, deleted scenes provide a more detailed look into a movie’s plot, but the stuff from the cutting room floor offers no real insight or surprises. It would have been nice if director Miguel Arteta had introduced each deleted Youth in Revolt clip, offering the reasons why the scenes didn’t make the final cut. Arteta wisely cut some extraneous material, including a long discussion between Nick and Sheeni during their first meeting.
• Deleted animation sequences.Youth in Revolt pays homage to those classic John Cusack movies from the 1980’s with some creative Claymation sequences over the opening credits. This special feature shows additional animated sequences that Arteta didn’t use in the theatrical release, including a graphic representation of Jerry’s heart attack. When all is said and done, these Claymation scenes are the best parts of Youth in Revolt.
Youth in Revolt, rated R for sexual content, language and drug use, now is available on DVD and Blu-ray.