Youth in Revolt

Release Date: January 8, 2010

Movie of the Day for Monday, February 9, 2009
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I hope there isn't a pie under there.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
8/12 Les Winan More good work from Cera. The film leaves out a lot of the book but is still effective and funny.
15/190 Max Braden Not perfect, but the movie makes me want to read the book. Justin Long is subtly funny.
84/123 David Mumpower The story meanders along the path without ever going anywhere notable.

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For whatever reason, critically reviled books often make for the most popular ones among teens. A perfect example of this would be the Youth in Revolt series, a novel that Publisher’s Weekly describes as “devoid of imagination or any redeeming qualities”. That’s…not good. Perhaps the explanation for such a negative visceral reaction is that Youth in Revolt is intended for a single specific target demographic, the oversexed teen. This is also the explanation for why a film adaptation of the title is underway. Oversexed teens are the bread and butter of the movie industry.

Youth in Revolt is the first novel in a series. It tells the story of Nick Twisp, a troubled 14-year-old whose home life is best described as unsettling. This point is driven home when Twisp’s mother’s current boyfriend, Jerry, gets into a spot of trouble with some local sailors. He sells them a lemon but is unwilling to abide by the Lemon Laws of his state. When the sea-farers announce their intent to attain revenge for this unfortunate business transaction, Jerry convinces Twisp’s mom, Estelle that this is a perfect time for a vacation.

The family jumps in an R.V. and sets out for a religious mobile home encampment. While staying there, Nick encounters Sheeni, another 14-year-old who happens to be the girl of his dreams. Coming off a bad break-up with Trent Preston, Sheeni is drawn to Nick but still in love with her former flame. Nick resolves to win her heart and places himself in a continually escalating series of unlawful events that lead to him being forced to convince people he has fled to India. Given the option between that scenario and a juvenile delinquency facility, Nick makes his call and the downside of such a call is well established in Martin Lawrence canon. He must put on a dress and a wig and pretend to be Carlotta, a conservative woman who knows Nick but does not approve of his lifestyle choices. What follows is the usual tale of transvestite in love with a woman who thinks he is a woman rom-com bliss.

Okay, the above sounds stereotypical bordering on creepy and off-putting. That sort of description is right in the wheelhouse of director Miguel Arteta, best known for the quirky 2000 release, Chuck and Buck. The good news here is that Superbad Juno star Michael Cera has been cast in the lead role. Presumably, they will dial up the age a bit in order for the 20-year-old actor to avoid Luke Perry jokes, but his understated brand of comedy should be perfect for such a role. Sixteen-year-old Amy Wilken will make her major film debut as Sheeni. The rest of the cast is rounded out nicely by Steve Buscemi as Twisp’s father, Jean Smart as Twisp’s mother and Ray Liotta as the dirty cop having an affair with Twisp’s mom.

Youth in Revolt has been in development for five years now. So, there is a bit of cause for concern about the repeated delays in adapting the novel. The presence of Cera, however, goes a long way in securing this project as a small-scale box office hit. Strange as the thought may be, Cera’s last two titles, Superbad and Juno, both earned over $100 million domestically. Given their combined production costs of $27.5 million against their total North American earnings of $265 million, it is fair to say that he has quickly built up recognition in the time since Arrested Development’s cancellation. Youth in Revolt will be the first attempt to see whether his name above the title means anything to teen audiences. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Youth in Revolt
Main Cast Michael Cera, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta
Supporting Cast Jean Smart, M. Emmet Walsh
Director Miguel Arteta
Screenwriter Gustin Nash
Distributor The Weinstein Company
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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