“Youth in Revolt
” is a movie with a good premise but a lackluster plot that revolves around a witty, intellectual teenager experiencing the isolation of adolescence while living with his mother (played by Jean Smart) and her boyfriend. Played by the likable Michael Cera, the lead character, Nick Twisp, spends a lot of the movie trying to attract the attention of a girl he desires. Unfortunately, the movie frequently becomes unnecessarily crass and stereotypical, detracting from an intriguing premise.
At the beginning, in order to protect his mother’s boyfriend from a fight with some sailors he sold a malfunctioning car to, the mother takes her son and boyfriend for a brief vacation. On that vacation, Nick meets a girl he's immediately attracted to but she's dating someone else. However, Nick still thinks he has a chance. In order to make himself more attractive to her he develops an alternate and “dangerous” personality named Francois, who has a mustache and enjoys causing trouble and destruction.
The premise, a “nice” guy wanting to engage in some “bad boy” behavior, is an intriguing one and one with a lot of potential. As nice guys are known for finishing last, what good guy has not wanted to become a "bad boy" to attract attention from the female sex? This movie takes that idea to the extreme with Francois showing up as another character entirely, albeit a character that only Nick can see. The movie does have some funny moments and witty dialogue that had me laughing out loud.
Unfortunately, the movie is often stereotypical and crass. For instance, the film features a religious couple -- the parents of the girl that Cera's attracted to. They're Hollywood-made and think Cera and the cat he shares with their daughter are both devilish fiends their daughter must steer clear of. Their son (played by Justin Long, in a wasted role) is a typical druggie who spends a lot of the movie giving his drugs away to those who want them and to some who don't . The scenes of drug use are clearly meant to be funny but we've seen it all before. When the druggie drugs his own parents for Thanksgiving, it's more sophomoric than innovative.
In terms of crassness, this is a movie clearly intended for adults. From the drug use to the coarse focus on sexuality, this is not for teenagers. There are couple of adult scenes, including a sequence in which Nick fantasizes about sticking his finger up a woman’s butt. If you are not into tasteless humor, stay away.
Lastly, I hated the conclusion where Nick makes a realization about his relationship with the girl. It is a false and bizarre revelation used to give the movie a “happy” ending. I don’t want to ruin anything, but in the last scene, Nick realizes something about the girl he likes that clearly does not ring true to the audience, and the rest of the movie attests to the fact that this realization is false. I left the theatre disappointed.
Overall, there were some funny moments and a good premise. Unfortunately, the movie does not follow through on it enough. The best part is Cera, who's very funny. But this won't measure up to his previous projects ("Arrested Development,” “Juno,” “Superbad”). I give it a C-.