Um…hi everyone. How are you doing? I mean, uh, are you doing okay? No? Me neither, hahahahaha that’s so funny. I, uh, know what you mean. Anyway, I was…I mean…uh…I uh…if its not too big of an inconvience for you and…uh…if you don’t have anything else to do I…uh…I was just wondering if it might be all right if we…uh…talk about the new Michael Cera movie? Maybe? Or not, because I can do whatever you want to do.
Okay, let’s talk about it then. Youth in Revolt is an adaptation of the sprawling, darkly comic novel by C.D. Payne about a shy, verbose young virgin who falls for a girl and has to embrace his dark side by literally inventing a second persona to do bad things in an attempt to woo her. Hijinks ensue (most of which get left out of the film version); hearts are filled and broken; age is come-of (I really need to work on my phrasing).
Cera does double duty, playing both the put-upon lead and his dangerous alter-ego (outfit with a moustache and cigarette) but, except for a few amusing moments where the two sides of his personality have direct conflict, he doesn’t give a very dynamic lead performance, settling too much into his all-too-familar awkward wallflower act, and not really engaging with the rest of the cast (including Zach Galifianakis and Steve Buscemi). His female counterpart, newbie Portia Doubleday, handles Payne’s hyper-literate dialogue but there’s not a whole lot of chemistry between her and Cera.
The other film’s other problem is one common to literary adaptations, especially ones based on books as long and jam-paced as Payne’s. There’s simply too many ideas going off in different directions and not quite enough focus. The film feels to overstuff and never ends up getting control of all the disparate concepts and ideas contained inside. Director Miguel Artera throws just about everything he can at the wall, including a number of animated sequences, but can’t really bring everything together in a satisfying way, especially towards the end where the film mostly drops the darkness and becomes a relatively bland, somewhat sappy love story.
Which isn’t to say the whole thing is a complete wash. There are a few funny moments, just not enough to keep up any sort of momentum for the film’s entire duration. The screenplay sands off too many of the edges, so Cera’s revolt feels too bland and, while the movie features a number of supporting character with the potential to be interesting, there’s far too many of them for any to actually become interesting.
Youth in Revolt has some promise, thanks mainly to the source material, but the filmmakers weren’t quite able to wrap their heads around it and find a way to synthesize that into a movie. Add in yet another milquetoast Michael Cera performance with him doing mostly the same stuff we’ve seen and you’ve got…uh…I mean…it was okay, but I…uh…what did you think?
Jonah’s Score: 48
Tangled Up in Wires Grade: C