Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Michael Cera has built a pretty successful career around being awkward. From Arrested Development to Superbad to this film, playing the gawky kid has worked to his advantage. Even though it was only released a few weeks ago, Youth In Revolt has all but disappeared from theaters and hasn't even recouped the cost of production yet. Odd, considering I would say this is Cera's best acting performance in film to date. Let me explain.
Most people want to see the Michael Cera from Year One, another George Michael Bluth character to set up in awkwardly funny scenes. There is plenty of that in Youth In Revolt, but it's everything else that will turn off the masses. Really, if you describe his Nick Twisp character to the average moviegoer ("he's a sixteen-year-old who loves Sinatra and Fellini, and he makes fun of futurist poetry!") they're going to be confused, not amused.
But a big part of why this movie works is that it wasn't made for everyone; it really feels like it was made for writers. The characters speak with an overly-abundant vocabulary for no particular reason, everyone writes in journals and lines are delivered with all kinds of wordplay. The plot is simple enough - eccentric boy meets eccentric girl, girl rejects him, boy creates psychopathic split personality - but it takes the old standard story and puts it through a grad school writing group. Think of it as a nerdy teenage Fight Club.
Unfortunately Youth In Revolt will probably get lumped in with the lesser Napoleon Dynamite, but it's so much more than your typical "quirky indie comedy". The pace and timing are spot on, and with dialogue like this - "I'll only ask once that you and your adorable sweater step away from the door. " - it's a necessity. Zach Galifinakis, Fred Willard and even Justin Long turn in great supporting roles, and Ray Liotta apparently reprises his Asshole Cop role from Observe & Report. See this movie.