Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love at First View: Youth in Revolt

I'd say 95% of films that I see in a given year I may feel admiration, enjoyment, indifference, ambivalence, or hatred for.  That other 5% of films (which last year would've accurately equaled about 18 films) I end up loving in some way or another.  Most of those I don't fall in love with immediately upon viewing.  The film ends up sticking to my brain for the days or weeks following my viewing and they haunt my thoughts until I'm itching to relive the film.  Then when I finally do I end up adding it to my ever-growing list of films I adore.  

Some films I love immediately upon watching.

Now, in the two days since seeing Youth in Revolt my admiration has waned quite a bit.  If I had written this immediately after viewing you'd probably be reading a complete rave, but for now it'll have to be deep appreciation.  Miguel Arteta's film (his Cedar Rapids I was underwhelmed by earlier this month) is a hipster-parodying comedy for the intellectual outsider in all of us.  Michael Cera's character Nick Twisp goes on vacation with his family where he falls for complete hipster francophile Sheenie Saunders (Portia Doubleday).  When she tells him that he just isn't the guy she'd ever see himself marrying, he invents Francois.  Francois is an alternate personality that embodies all that Sheenie desires in her future husband: innately cool, French (I understand those two may be redundant), dangerous, sexual, and confident.  This additional personality pushes him to great lengths to win the love of his crush.

Youth in Revolt may have a concept that seems a bit convoluted, but it's executed with such a sense of whimsy and fun that it never seems complicated.  I was relieved to see Michael Cera doing his schtick but in a way he hasn't done it yet.  I think that between this and the AMAZING Scott Pilgrim vs. The World we're seeing Michael Cera really explore what his on-screen persona  has become, and it's refreshing each time.  I must admit, though, that I am not at all sick of Cera.  Juno, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Scott Pilgrim, Superbad, and now Youth in Revolt I all love.  It's actually quite shocking to line up all of those films since besides Superbad I actually love them all!  Revelation: I'm a big Michael Cera fan.

Besides Cera being Cera I was worried that the film would have an overload of indie quirk, and I was very happy to see that it isn't quirky at all.  There are moments that may seem to fit into that recent quirk mold, but it never quite goes in that direction.  The comedy of the film is genuine, and that leaves it at a really good place.

Also, the talent involved is great: Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Fred Willard, Ari Graynor (who is best-in-show in Nick & Norah's), Justin Long, and even Rooney Mara!  What an embarrassment of riches there.  They all do great work here, but the clear stand-out is Cera and Doubleday in their leading roles.  They make Nick and Sheenie so rounded, even if their characters could very easily veer into caricatures of hipster/quirky/intellectual/indie outsiders.  

It was love, at first view: A-

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