Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Movie Review: Youth in Revolt

We need to hear from you.
Today during our spring member drive, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

Youth In Revolt is a hilarious adaptation of C.D. Payne’s epic 499-page novel of teenage angst. The film is directed by Miguel Artera (Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl) who seems to be at one with himself when infusing tales with quirky protagonists, such as Michael Cera’s Nick Twisp.

Twisp is essentially a good-hearted, affable, and eccentric 16 year-old teen with a taste for the finer things in life like Frank Sinatra and Fellini. Thanks to his crazy divorced parents, he is stuck living with his trashy mother, Estelle (played by Jean Smart) and her various beaus.

In a short-lived role, boyfriend No. 1 (or Jerry) is played by Zach Galifianakis. His simple deed of trying to sell a “used” car turns disasterous and the trio must pack up for a road trip to Restless Axles, a Christian trailer park. It is at this hideout/trailer park that Twisp meets and falls in love with free-spirited Sheeni Saunders, played by Portia Doubleday. Who has a boyfriend. Who has very religious parents. Who must be stopped.

Once Sheeni starts longing for Twisp, she convinces him that, “You must be bad, Nickie. Be very, very bad,” in order for the two star-crossed lovers to be together. Just one more thing: he has to get kicked out of his mother’s house, convince everyone he must live with his father, George (played by an under-used Steve Buscemi) and get his father a job near the trailer park.

Support for LAist comes from

This is where the fun begins. We “lose” Jerry along the way and encounter mom’s boyfriend No. 2, Lance Wescott, played by Ray Liotta. Who is a cop. Who suspects that Twisp is up to no good. He’s right. In order for Twisp to complete his master plan he creates an alter ego by the name of Francois Dillinger. Dillinger is afraid of nothing and is a cigarette-smoking, womanizing, pencil-mustache wearing French manifestation of Twisp’s id.

Along Francois’s journey to re-ignite Nick and Sheeni’s infinite playlist, I mean love, is a series of madcap action. In this instance, cars will be stolen, mushrooms will be used and a lot of breaking into boarding school’s dorm rooms will be done.

During the film’s short duration of 90 minutes, we also meet Sheeni’s brother, played by Justin Long who has no problem doping up the religious parents for shits and giggles. The parents who are played by Mary Kay Place and Emmet Walsh, seem to be having fun with their characters and the audience senses this, too.

Without a doubt, the film belongs to Cera. He’s been great at being the awkward, eccentric, kind-hearted young man since his days playing George-Michael Bluth on Arrested Development. The best part was seeing him let loose as Francois. Oh, and there’s a scene with a cereal bowl that is worth the price of admission alone.

Youth in Revolt opens today.

Review by Jennifer Harmon

Most Read