Toronto Review: "Youth in Revolt"

By Melissa Algaze Monday September 14th 2009 01:55AM

"Youth in Revolt" is the 2009 American feature film adaptation of C.D. Payne's first book in a series of best-selling satirical novels of the same name. It premieres this week at the festival and is due to be released in the U.S. next month.

Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is a cynical, sex-obsessed, loveable 16 year-old loser with mature tastes in music, film and women. While on vacation to the ‘Restless Axels' trailer park with his dysfunctional and desperately middle-aged mother (Jean Smart) and truck-driving unlawful boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis), he meets the girl of his dreams, the intelligent, sophisticated and sexually forward Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) and Nick falls deeply in love.

But geography (theirs), ex-lovers (hers) and meddling parents (theirs) threaten the budding romance. In order to cope and bolster his courage, Nick creates a rebellious alter-ego, François, who Nick thinks will rescue him from himself, but in reality gets Nick into disaster after disaster in his quest for Sheeni's attention.

"Youth in Revolt" is not your average teenage sex comedy/coming of age story. This unsentimental, cynical, sex farce is decidedly unique, yet somewhat familiar. It deals with relatable themes such as the loneliness of adolescence, teenage rebellion, sexual obsession and the experience of growing up in a chaotic world in an extremely distinctive manner. Cera, no stranger to the comedic value of embarrassment and relative newcomer Doubleday are credible in the outrageous predicaments the story finds them in.

The supporting cast including Smart, Galifianakis, Justin Long, Fred Willard, and Steve Buscemi embody their eccentric characters, contributing to the uproarious experience of the film. Director Miguel Arteta has found a perfect off kilter take to the coming of age genre by mixing various animation techniques that show how Nick might imagine the things he's talking about traditional live action where you see things from the narrators' point-of-view. "Youth in Revolt" is hilarious, subversive and exceptionally original.