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Youth in Revolt DVD Review

Youth in Revolt (2010) movie poster Youth in Revolt

Theatrical Release: January 8, 2010 / Running Time: 89 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Miguel Arteta / Writers: C.D. Payne (novel), Gustin Nash (screenplay) / Songs List

Cast: Michael Cera (Nick Twisp and Francois Dillinger), Portia Doubleday (Sheeni Saunders), Jean Smart (Estelle Twisp), Mary Kay Place (Mrs. Saunders), M. Emmet Walsh (Mr. Saunders), Ari Graynor (Lacey), Zach Galifianakis (Jerry), Adhir Kaylan (Vijay Joshi), Jonathan Bradford Wright (Trent Preston), Erik Knudsen (Lefty), Rooney Mara (Taggarty), Jade Fusco (Bernice Lynch), Lisa Lacasse (Matron), Michael Collins (Old Man), Oscar the Dog (Albert), Justin Long (Paul Saunders), Fred Willard (Mr. Ferguson), Ray Liotta (Lance Wescott), Steve Buscemi (George Twisp)

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Nick Twisp, Michael Cera's sixteen-year-old protagonist of Youth in Revolt, appreciates the finer things in life, like Frank Sinatra vinyl records and the classic foreign films of The Criterion Collection. That has helped keep him virginal, against his wishes.

Hope for change in that department blossoms when Nick joins his divorced mom (Jean Smart)
and her sailor-swindling boyfriend (a briefly-seen Zach Galifianakis) for a week-long getaway in a Ukiah, California trailer park. There, Nick effortlessly finds a kindred spirit in Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Sharing time on the beach and on a hike, the two pleasantly pretentious teens bond as much as the week allows them.

As his only hope for reunion, Nick creates an alter ego in the cigarette-smoking, mustachioed bad boy Francois Dillinger (also portrayed by Cera). With blue-eyed, white-panted Francois' help, Nick is able to act out in a grand enough fashion for his mother to agree to send him to live with his father (Steve Buscemi). Along with a girlfriend young enough to be his daughter (Ari Graynor), Mr. Twisp is in Ukiah, where Nick and Sheeni have conspired to get him fixed with a job.

Unfortunately for the young would-be lovers, Sheeni's religious parents (M. Emmet Walsh, Mary Kay Place) learn of Nick's transgressional arson and have their daughter enrolled in a strict French boarding school 200 miles away. In response, Nick and Francois hatch a new plan.

Sixteen-year-old Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) experiences embarrassment, jealousy, and, most of all, attraction during the brief time he spends with Ukiah trailer park resident Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). At breakfast, Nick's mother (Jean Smart) and her latest boyfriend (Ray Liotta) are introduced to Nick's alter ego, Francois.

Adapted from C.D. Payne's journal-based 1993 novel, Youth in Revolt comes to film from Charlie Bartlett screenwriter Gustin Nash and The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck director Miguel Arteta. Both seem well suited to the task, and, although he turned 22 this week, Cera was an obvious choice to play the articulate, mild-mannered, datedly-fashioned Nick.

Youth in Revolt is often very funny. There are drugs and sex, and Cera is repeatedly paraded around in his boxer shorts for laughs, but this is distinctly different from the kind of raunchy youth comedies that are easy to find and forget nowadays. This has a brain and a heart and it uses both to keep us invested in and entertained by this well-crafted tale of reluctant teen rebellion.

While he's in capable hands, much of the film's success is owed to Cera and his strong leading performances. It's hard to imagine any other young actor being as believable or sympathetic as the slightly schizophrenic juvenile delinquent aptly motivated by lovelorn delusions. Cera convincingly and impressively roams outside his well-known comfort zone in his work as the bold, forward Francois persona. Seeing the id and ego of this boy sharing the screen and weighing their prospects is rewarding and relatable. Their irregular debate advances and is advanced by the events around them, which paint the story with amusing strokes of absurdity but always keep a foot on the ground for us to stay hooked.

Sheeni's older religious parents (Mary Kay Place and M. Emmet Walsh) hold a low regard for Nick and for Albert the dog (named after and pronounced like Camus). Creative renderings of Jean Smart, Michael Cera, and Zach Galifianakis are seen in the film's opening drive claymation.

Supplying an appropriate touch of quirk, the film uses the occasional bit of animation:
different stop-motion techniques for a couple of driving scenes and traditional 2-D for floating sex guide book illustrations and a satisfying epilogue.

The commendable, distinguished supporting cast includes Ray Liotta as the police officer who becomes Nick's mother's next lover back in Oakland; Jason Long as Sheeni's mellow, pot-smoking, horn-blowing brother; and Fred Willard as a neighbor who is friend to illegal immigrants and also gets in the spirit of shirtlessness.

While no box office behemoth, Youth in Revolt performed respectably for an R-rated film released to fewer than 2,000 theaters in early January. It may have needed European grosses to clear its modest $18 reported production budget, but if anything it showed the viability of an earnest mini-major release while every studio seems to be thinking big with PG-13 franchise-friendly tentpoles.

As one of the many recent Weinstein Company films distributed to video by Sony, Dimension-branded Youth in Revolt comes to DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, June 15th.

Buy Youth in Revolt on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: June 15, 2010
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $28.95
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc

VIDEO and AUDIO

Youth in Revolt looks very good in the DVD's 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The picture isn't quite flawless, but the few shortcomings noticed can barely even be called minor and don't merit discussion. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is even more satisfying, delivering an appropriately crisp and vital mix.

The young girlfriend (Ari Graynor) of Nick's father (Steve Buscemi) has some choice words for him in this deleted tense domestic scene observed by Nick and his activist neighbor (Fred Willard). Vijay (Adhir Kaylan) does some backseat flossing in this extended version of his and Nick's animated paper cut-out drive to Sheeni's French school. Sony's legal department needed less cowbell than Erik Knudsen provided them in his audition; hence the blurred Christopher Walken head t-shirt.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The DVD's top-billed and biggest bonus feature is an audio commentary by Michael Cera and director Miguel Arteta. Their track is a bit subdued compared to ones Cera has recorded with past collaborators.
The two do speak consistently, though, almost always in regards to what's onscreen, namely Cera's fellow actors. They also touch upon what isn't seen, like improvs and moments they were pained to cut. A decent amount of information emerges, but it's less lively than other comedy actor commentaries and by no means a must-hear.

The video extras begin with nine deleted scenes (10:55). Among the lot are two Nick and Sheeni exchanges on and anticipating sex, two more Zach Galifianakis scenes, another visit to tent-residing friend Lefty (Erik Knudsen), a phone call that introduces without revealing Nick's rival Trent (Jonathan Bradford Wright), and two bits involving the askew domestic front at Dad's place. A couple of these clearly deserved cutting, but most are interesting to see and unusually welcome here.

Next come five deleted/extended Animated Sequences (7:13), most of which aren't too different from what's seen in the film. The pop-up-style drive by Nick and his friend Vijay (Adhir Kalyan) to Sheeni's boarding school is most noticeably elongated. (An imaginative, entirely cut short claymation segment appears in one of the previous section's Galifianakis deletions.)

Last up is quiet, unsightly digital video audition footage (9:11) of Portia Doubleday (with Michael Cera), Zach Galifianakis, Erik Knudsen (with blurred Christopher Walken as Bruce Dickinson t-shirt), Jonathan Bradford Wright, and Adhir Kalyan. Galifianakis' tryout is best enjoyed with his "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" thespian/acting coach character Tairy Greene in mind.

The Blu-ray's only exclusive is movieIQ+sync, which we're told can deliver real-time information on the cast, music, etc. while watching the movie. I think I can achieve something similar by waking up my laptop during playback, but I wouldn't advocate that kind of distraction.

In addition to the Blu-ray/BD-Live promo and trailers for A Single Man, Chloe, and The Runaways that load the disc, "Previews" holds spots for A Prophet, The Bounty Hunter, and Harry Brown.

Characters and objects pop up on the sprightly, sunny animated main menu inspired by the opening titles. The submenus give us a static, silent take on the visuals.

Nick Twisp and his uninhibited mustachioed alter ego Francois Dillinger (both Michael Cera) have quite different reactions to an accidental act of arson in Berkeley.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Funny but smart and quirky but authentic, Youth in Revolt is an enjoyable hormonal coming-of-age tale that brings a cult novel to the screen with sharp writing, directing, and performances. So long as you can handle racy antics involving teens, this film is recommended for you. Though not the most substantial and lacking in some regards, the DVD's non-routine extras complement the film and add value. This is a disc worth checking out.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy on Blu-ray / The Book by C.D. Payne

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An Education • Bottle Rocket (Criterion Collection) • Eagle vs Shark • Our Very Own • Adventureland • World's Greatest Dad
Starring Michael Cera: Superbad • Year One • Juno • Wayside: The Movie | Ray Liotta: Wild Hogs • Bee Movie
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Disturbia • The Parent Trap (1998) • The Parent Trap: 2-Movie Collection • Popular: The Complete Second Season

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Sample the songs and score of Youth in Revolt:
Youth in Revolt Songs List (in order of use): The Frank & Friends Big Band - "I Fell in Love", Xocoyotzin Herrera - "El Mago Cardona", Fleshpot - "Happiness Together", Fun Boy Three & Bananarama - "T'Aint What You Do (It's the Way You Do It)", Anthony Mawer - "Midnight Rendezvous", "T. Delicieux", Fatlip - "What's Up Fatlip", Devendra Banhart - "Shabop Shalom", Ashlee Simpson - "L.O.V.E.", Jacques Dutronc - "Les Cactus", Brigitte Bardot - "Ca Pourrait Changer (Don't You Ever Change Your Mind)", Fleshpot - "Light of Love", Radar Bros. - "Happy Spirits", Little Wings - "I Willn't Be a Prisoner", Fruit Bats - "When U Love Somebody", Fleshpot - "Pretty Smart", Beulah - "Popular Mechanics for Lovers", Jo Stafford - "My Romance", Petra Haden and Woody Jackson - "I Willn't Be a Prisoner"

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Reviewed June 11, 2010.



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