Posted by: Dr P | February 8, 2010

Youth in Revolt

Michael Cera is rapidly becoming my favourite comedy actor. Despite the nerd-like appearance and stuttering voice, he is capable of some towering comedic moments, and he practically carries this movie on his shoulders.

Cera plays Nick Twisp, a down on his luck, gawky virginal teenager with separated parents, no chance of getting a girl, and pretty down on his luck; he’s shy, sensitive, intelligent … and as he remarks early on, it tends to be the “pricks” that get the girl.

When his Mum and the trailer-trash boyfriend she’s recently picked up are forced to spend some time away from home following a bad car deal, Nick finds himself in a trailer park miles from anywhere. However, to his utter surprise, he meets and rapidly falls in love with Sheeni Saunders (the superbly named Portia Doubleday), who has her own troubles with her devout Christian parents. Unfortunately for Nick, Sheeni has an older boyfriend, the impossibly coiffed Trent. In order to win her heart, Nick adopts the persona of a rebellious French youth named Francois.

This is where the movie starts to come into its own. Francois rapidly converts Nick from a shy kid into a seriously dsyfunctional arsonist and rebel, with one hell of an attitude. Cera is wonderful in the double role, and some of the lines his alter ego is given are jaw-achingly funny.

As Francois takes more and more of a hold, Nick falls foul of 2 sets of cops, alienates both his and Sheeni’s parents, blows a lot of stuff up, and learns a number of painfully funny lessons about life, love, and the pursuit of girls.

It’s an absolute joy of a movie, with moments that had me gasping with laughter. Cera is already a master of comic timing, with his facial expressions, superb delivery of one-liners and portrayal of both soft and harsh characters down to a tee. If you enjoyed his performances in Juno or Superbad you’ll know what to expect. Doubleday is also excellent in her role as the Christian minx, whilst an array of supporting characters, such as the crooked cop who ends up bonking Nick’s Mum, his increasingly annoyed Dad (Steve Buscemi), and “Mr Ferguson” (worth the admission price for the drugged-out scene where he’s lying on the carpet in a very baffled state).

The character of Francois allows the writers to give Cera lines his other characters would never be allowed to deliver; the way he produces chat-up lines such as “I’m gonna wrap your legs around my head and wear you like the crown that you are … if that’s ok with you?” is genius.

Get the popcorn in, put your feet up and enjoy this treat of a movie.

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