Before Youth in Revolt became a movie, it was the first book in C.D. Payne’s popular six-novel series, known collectively as The Journals of Nick Twisp. Its partisans likely will find the film disappointing, but the rest of us should have a good time.
Rebel without a clue: Michael Cera plays up his mean streak in Youth in Revolt.
As adapted by Gustin Nash (Charlie Bartlett) and directed by Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck), this Revolt seems at once an old-fashioned picaresque, in which a teenager’s intense summer vacation romance drives him to episodic rascality, and the faddish epitome of perk ’n’ quirk packaging, whose animated interludes and indie-pop soundtrack call to mind the Michael Cera-intensive Paper Heart and Juno.
Cera as Nick Twisp—a cerebral, self-involved, hormone-addled outcast, capable of refined cultural tastes and intense romantic fixations—seems like a casting no-brainer. Technically he’s too old for this part, but it’s easy to give him a pass because he’s him.
Having endured the break-up of his frivolously trashy parents (Jean Smart, Steve Buscemi) and their subsequent, variously abhorrent recouplings (involving Zach Galifianakis, Ari Graynor, Ray Liotta), young Nick feels angsty and sexually bereft. Through an auspicious getaway from his suburban Bay Area home to a backwoods trailer park, he meets an alluringly sphinx-like siren named Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), who shares his pretentious interests and goads his ardor.
“I have decided to create a supplementary persona named Francois Dillinger,” he’s telling us in a voiceover before long. “Bold, contemptuous of authority and irresistible to women.” This havoc-wreaking alter ego, played also by Cera but now in shades and loafers and a pencil mustache, becomes a droll parody of familiar adolescent cynicism.
Cars get stolen and smashed, drugs consumed, genders bent. People get hurt, Justin Long gets baked, Fred Willard gets naked. And Sheeni’s Bible-thumper parents (Mary Kay Place and M. Emmet Walsh) get very offended.
It’s odd and fun watching Cera dip into this peculiar range of voguish deadpan profanity. Galifianakis has paved a way into the territory for us, but his presence can be distancing. Cera, on the other hand, seems like a confidant. How charmingly he delineates his character’s urge to be so worldly and adult-like, even when confronted with overwhelming evidence that most adults are uncivilized schnooks. Of course, it raises the fear that he’ll just keep doing a Michael Cera routine until one day suddenly he has turned undeniably old, and all that nonthreatening asexual innocence somehow has become a horror of bitter schmaltz and lechery.
But not yet. So far we’re OK. Youth in Revolt gives us another angle on Cera’s blithe timidity. It allows him to play the straight man to himself. Maybe the real reason that a filmed version of the book never quite happened before (small-screen tries were made for Fox in 1996 and for MTV in 1998) is that it was waiting for now, and for him.
Big laughs come out in small spaces when improv is the stage—at least that’s what Smallprov sets out to accomplish. The Big Blue Door comedy gathering focuses on powerful bursts of wit rather than long-winded monologues. The brief skits are unrehearsed and based entirely on audience
Even though Adrian Duke is based in central Virginia, his bluesy roots music lives in the heart of New Orleans. His funk and jazz prowess on the piano is matched by raw, expressive vocals, and elevated by a tight backing band that shares the work in bringing down the house. Duke has received
If a high seas adventure delivered in iambic pentameter isn’t enough to get you off the couch, then maybe the added splendor of seeing it performed on an authentic Shakespearean stage—in the same manner that the bard himself would’ve produced—will get you searching for your shoes. Staunton’s
The Head and the Heart have the holy grail of indie rock band success: One good male singer, one good female singer. It’s a combination, along with a well-timed whistle or catchy chant, that has made Peter Bjorn and John, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Gotye, and a handful of others huge
Celebrate 40 years with the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia at its inaugural season performances. Kate Tamarkin directs the masters of classical music through a specially commissioned piece entitled “Fanfare for a Ruby Celebration,” composed by Randol Alan Bass, and
Visual artist Philip de Jong won’t content himself with creating beautiful work. In fact, he avoids contentment altogether. “At some point as a trained photographer your job is to make anything look good,” he said. “If people describe my work as pretty, I feel insulted on some level because all
“What inspires you?” For those with an interest in visual art, the question could elicit a response of Diane Arbus, Stan Brakhage, or Jean-Michel Basquiat. However, for many UVA alumni, the answer might very well be the University’s legendary art professor, Lydia Gasman. This month, an
Eight master artisans flex their talents at the 11th annual Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase. Chow down on comfort food classics like Brunswick stew and fried apple pies as you groove to the sounds of Flory Jagoda’s Sephardic Jewish ballads, Buddy Pendleton’s bluegrass fiddle, or
Fanny Smedile is not a professional dancer. But at last year’s Cville Sabroso, she put on a colorful dancing dress and found herself transformed. “When I wore the costume, I felt my folklore,” she said. “When I listened to the music, it took me back to my country. In that moment, I felt it in
Boasting gritty, authentic vocals and a solid backbone to his melodies, Darrin Bradbury returns to town, acoustic guitar in tow, to open for singer-songwriter Carl Anderson. His homespun storytelling reflects his new Nashville address as he bobs and weaves through rustic tales of love and
Criticism of the aggressively inoffensive Dolphin Tale 2 should be taken with the same grain of salt that the critics themselves took when watching it. This film is not meant for analysis any more than Duck Duck Goose is meant to be played at a professional level, and for the same reason:
The contentious divide between traditional bluegrass and progressive bluegrass is manufactured, according to Anders Beck, dobro virtuoso for the dogged newgrass outfit Greensky Bluegrass. “I feel like that argument is more perpetuated by people that just want to talk about it than people who
Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin brings sunny dispositions home in “Songs and Stories, Together Onstage,” a special duet performance with neo-country pioneer Steve Earle. The two songwriters sing, strum, and spin tales from their own catalogues and other classic hits. Collectively, the two have over
“I’m dying to find Him, but dying’s my fear. Is there perfection? Will there be pain? Will I see mom and dad again?” With a weathered voice, steeped in the honest emotion of a man facing his mortality, Jesse Winchester seeks answers from his Maker during these poignant lines in the song
Blues Control is a wild misnomer. The rock-adjacent duo isn’t always in control, improvisation being a sturdy part of its practice. And none of this really has anything to do with Robert Johnson. Despite all that, though, Animal Collective’s Panda Bear tagged the band as his opener on a
Who says the luck of the Irish is only fit for March? With 50 years of experience in the folk music scene, Galway native Sean Tyrell has carefully honed his craft in song and strings. He weaves intricate tales that have garnered international critical acclaim, both for his three solo albums and
Shovels and Rope Swimmin’ Time/Dualtone On Swimmin’ Time, their third album, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent are in top form. Whether they amble through Americana numbers like “The Devil Is All Around,” or stomp out ominous rockers like “Evil,” the duo demonstrates they have a firm handle on
Cure your back-to-school blues with a little Greek life—ancient Greek, that is. The Paramount kicks off a fresh season of live streaming from London’s National Theatre with Euripedes’ classic tragedy Medea. Helen McCrory takes the title role as a wronged wife who exacts a terrible revenge in
Not since Raul Julia’s puzzling appearance in the New Jersey Public Television video chroma key disaster “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” has A-level talent looked as out of place as it does in the attempted scandal flick The Last of Robin Hood. But where “Overdrawn” can blame its production