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Movie Review

Nick Twisp has a "problem." He's a desperate, slightly nerdy teenage virgin in a world filled with rampant canoodlers.

Everyone of every age—from young bench-sitters lounging in the park to old hand-holders strolling the city sidewalks—seems to have someone to lock lips with. His divorced parents are at that and much more night and day with their respective casual sex partners. Why, even the toy animals in Nick's overactive imagination are in a copulation frenzy. And all he can do is look on, listen in and long for his turn to get in on the lusty action.

Then, while on vacation, Nick meets Sheeni. She's blonde, obsessed with things French and bright enough to be the girl of his heated teen dreams. But now Nick has a new "problem." Two, really. His dream girl already has a boyfriend. And Nick's vacation isn't long enough to properly compensate for that.

So the frustrated guy puts all his imaginative know-how into an elaborate plan: The first step entails landing his dad a new job near Sheeni. Next, he creates a bad-boy, cigarette-smoking alter ego who can cause all manner of destructive havoc.

After that … well, things quickly go downhill from there.

Positive Elements

You could say that Nick does seem to earnestly fall for Sheeni. And she seems to like him, too. Or not.

Spiritual Content

When Nick's mom, Estelle, and her live-in boyfriend take Nick on vacation, they stay at a "Christian" trailer park that's associated with a little church they pass by. The trailer they rent is full of religious knickknacks such as porcelain praying hands and cross-covered needlepoint embroideries.

Sheeni labels her parents as "religious fanatics" and says, "They're exhausting!" Nick spray-paints "God's perfect a‑‑hole" on the side of someone's trailer.

Sexual Content

The film opens with Nick masturbating under his bed covers while ogling porn.

I've already written this, but once just won't get the job done in this case: Things quickly go downhill from there.

A coed crawls seductively into bed with a guy. (She's wearing a skimpy bra and panties, and we hear most of what happens next.) During a drug trip, Nick sees a naked animated couple come to 3-D life and continue their intercourse while floating before his face. He reaches out his hand and sticks a finger into the girl's undulating backside.

Noticing Nick's arousal when he's rubbing lotion on her bikini-clad back, legs and stomach, Sheeni talks crudely about it. While making out, Sheeni puts Nick's hand under her shirt and he caresses her breast. She and Nick strip to have sex (and are then shown under a sheet). Nick's mom and her current boyfriend are shown taking a shower together.

His mom wears outfits that overemphasize her bulging cleavage. And through the course of the film she jumps from one bedmate to another. (Nick listens in from his adjoining bedroom.) Dad, meanwhile, is all over his 25-year-old live-in who runs around in a skimpy bikini or formfitting short shorts.

One of Nick's friends discusses the unnatural curve of his erection and his duct tape remedy. Nick and another friend strip to their boxers. A number of girls wear low-cut and formfitting outfits. The camera gives us a clear view of drawings of nude couplings in a sexual instruction book.

Violent Content

Nick—sometimes as his alter ego, François—gets into several scrapes, which are usually played for laughs. One of the more serious incidents involves him causing a trailer and then a car to roll down a steep incline and smash into a restaurant. People scream and flee. The vehicles erupt in a giant ball of flame.

Estelle's newest boyfriend whips Nick with a belt. Sheeni's boyfriend punches Nick in the face and the two get into a short wrestling/punching fight. Sheeni's brother punches Nick's father in the mouth when Dad complains that he's giving his girlfriend drugs.

Crude or Profane Language

At least 30 f-words and a dozen s-words. We hear God's name misused at least a half-dozen times. (Twice it's paired with "d‑‑n.") Somewhat less foul words include "h‑‑‑," "a‑‑," "d‑‑n" and "b‑‑ch."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Sheeni's brother, Paul, is a strung out druggy who shares his weed and psychedelic mushrooms with Nick and others. Nick eats the mushrooms and has a sexually tinged vision. (Of course.) Later, Paul serves the mushrooms to his parents as appetizers before dinner, and we see the pair drooling and playing with their food.

Several of the adults drink wine. In an attempt to get Sheeni expelled and sent home, Nick has another student slip sleeping pills into her drinks. Nick, as François, smokes cigarettes nonstop, and a poster in Sheeni's bedroom depicts a smoking Frenchman. Estelle smokes as well.

Other Negative Elements

Nick meets a bulimic girl throwing up in a college bathroom. Nick, as François, is perpetually crude and destructive in a number of ways, ranging from cutting up his mother's undergarments to spitting on her carpet to flushing her jewelry down the toilet.


Recent popular sex comedies, such as the aptly titled Superbad, have made Michael Cera into Hollywood's poster boy for contemporary teenage angst. His pics generally include libidinous teen boys chatting up pretty girls with awkward, quasi-intellectual prattle and then going to embarrassing and usually disastrous lengths to somehow lose their virginity with them.

That description reflects both his cinematic past and present.

The only real distinction worth noting this time around is that Cera's character creates an alter ego to help him win the girl with cigarette-puffing, sneeringly bad-boy panache. It's a creative twist that entertains for all of five minutes while driving "our hero" on to more and more outrageous and destructive hijinks.

As for the obligatory numbskull adults in the tale? Nick's parents see family as an annoying responsibility they'd rather be without. And they help paint a picture of a callow and utterly self-focused world that the film tries to suggest is today's societal norm.

As for my conclusion? Marketed to teens who shouldn't even be able to get in and teen-like adults who should know better, Youth in Revolt is a lump of dirty cut glass masquerading as a pop culture-savvy gemstone. Revolting is too obvious. So I'll end with worthless.

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Michael Cera as Nick Twisp; Justin Long as Paul Saunders; Portia Doubleday as Sheeni Saunders; Jean Smart as Estelle Twisp; Steve Buscemi as George Twisp; Zach Galifianakis as Jerry


Miguel Arteta ( )


Dimension Films



Record Label



In Theaters

January 8, 2010

On Video

June 15, 2010

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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