Say what you want about Michael Cera, but he just may be the youth generation’s Woody Allen. Yes, he acts the same in every single one of his movies, but so does Woody Allen. Cera possesses the same introspective neuroses and inabilities to get/keep women that Allen does. If you have not seen any of Cera’s films, I recommend you check out Arrested Development, Superbad, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. They are all excellent and they showcase Cera’s comic abilities.

Here, Cera stars in Youth in Revolt, a romantic-comedy coming of age story about a virgin teenager who obsesses over getting laid. He lives with his single mom who’s life is a rotating mess of different men entering her life. One weekend, Cera, his mom, and her boyfriend (hilariously played by Zach Galifianakis) take off to a summer camp where Cera meets the girl of his dreams (Portia Doubleday). The two of them get romantically involved, but a number of obstacles get in the way such as her Born Again Christian parents not liking Cera and sending their daughter away to a French prep school (in Santa Cruz of all places!!!). Cera doesn’t have the balls to pursue the girl so he invents an alter-ego of himself, a pencil-thin mustache wearing narcissistic asshole who plays the devil on Cera’s shoulder.

Despite its flaws, Youth in Revolt is an overall entertaining film. Its comedy borders between light and dark and although it doesn’t contain the hilarity of Observe & Report or The Hangover, its jokes work. Cera displays his usual deadpan wit, but the real gem of the film is his alter-ego, Francois. This is the first time I have seen Cera portray a character differently and it was a welcome change that I would like to see more of in the future (which we very well might in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). The Francois character got the biggest laughs from the audience and his complete lack of morals and ethics provided huge laughs. The character was also quite creepy and I got to thinking how great of a villain Cera would make in another movie.

I have never seen Portia Doubleday before, the love interest in Youth in Revolt, and I can see why. She doesn’t bring much to the table here in terms of acting, comedy, or even physical looks. Because of this, the relationship between she and Cera lacks any chemistry and, consequently, you don’t really care about whether or not Cera is going to get the girl. However, I don’t believe the filmmakers really intended for you to care about the survival of the characters’ relationship. This movie is more about the lengths Cera’s character will go to get the girl. I think the filmmakers want the audience to realize that the girl is not worth all the trouble Cera is going to, but its funny to watch him try.

In watching Youth in Revolt, it was clear the movie was adapted from the novel. The scenes in the movie feel disjointed from one another and they come off as being random and almost skit-like. The situations are the type of weird, crazy situations that you normally would find in a book, not a movie. Despite all this, the comedy manages to overcome a lot of these issues. Not only are the situations wacky and hilarious at times, but the filmmakers wisely litter the film with a great supporting cast (Galifianakis, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, and Justin Long) that contributes a lot to the comedy.

By the way, for any of you Bay Area residents who see this film, you will notice some clear problems with the settings of the film. First, Cera and his mom live in Oakland. No problem with that other than the fact that EVERYONE we see in his town is white. Clearly, the filmmakers have never visited Oakland. Second, Portia Doubleday’s character is sent off to a French prep school in Santa Cruz. For anyone even remotely familiar with Santa Cruz, it is a city that is even more liberal and hippie than Berkeley. A French prep school would no way in hell be located in Santa Cruz.

Go see Youth in Revolt? All in all, this is a good matinee to catch and definitely a worthwhile rental. There were enough jokes and funny situations to keep me interested, especially any scenes containing the Francois character. On the other hand, January is typically a slow month for movie releases and I can see why this was released this month. It doesn’t have the quality of comedy to be a big summer or winter release and it doesn’t have the star power to be released in the summer or winter either.

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