By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — Though sometimes witty, “Youth in Revolt” (Dimension) is, far more consistently, a sex-focused coming-of-age comedy that begins with its main character, lonely California teen Nick Twisp (Michael Cera), engaged in an audible (though not visible) act of autoeroticism, and rarely departs from the theme of physical gratification thereafter.
Much of the more acceptable humor revolves around Nick’s sophisticated cultural tastes — typified by his fondness for old Frank Sinatra records and classic Fellini movies — which make him a fish out of water in the lowbrow world of his divorced parents, Estelle (Jean Smart) and George (Steve Buscemi).
So when Nick meets comely, and like-minded, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) — a devotee of all things French — on a family vacation to a lakeside trailer park, he falls instantly and obsessively in love.
But fate intervenes to separate the young couple before Nick has had a chance to jettison his virginity by spending the night with Sheeni. (In line with many another Hollywood offering, director Miguel Arteta’s adaptation of “Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp” — the first in C.D. Payne’s series of novels about the titular adolescent — portrays high schooler Nick’s lack of bedroom experience as an intolerable psychological and emotional burden.)
In response to this crisis, Nick develops a suave but amoral alter ego named Francois (also Cera), who proves willing to cause all manner of supposedly comic mayhem — including traffic accidents and a destructive blaze — to reunite Nick with the object of his desire.
Their shared pursuit of Sheeni leads to such adventures as a hormonally charged nighttime stay in her boarding school dorm room and a “magic mushrooms” trip during which Nick hallucinates the illustrations in a sex manual coming alive and floating provocatively through the air.
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.
The film contains explicit animated images of intercourse, nongraphic premarital (and probably underage) sexual activity, masturbation, drug use, at least one profanity, much sexual humor and considerable rough and crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.