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Youth In Revolt

Michael Cera is basically Jesse Eisenberg. There is no discernable difference. Vague physical disparities aside (he’s a bit more cuddlesomely marsupial, looks more like Beck and offers perhaps a slightly more exacting shorthand as to the current ‘diffident, subverted cool nerd’ box-office template): they’re square pegs for not-actually-that square holes. Realistically, they are interchangeable. And having two of them around is no bad thing. You do wonder, though, what will become of them when they are post-25. Look at Biggs: vanished.

Here, Cera plays Nick Twisp, a variation on a well-worn theme: nebbishly uncool teenage boy with a desparate urge to get his end away. Because he’s reasonably intelligent, he doesn’t just want anyone. The fate that soon befalls his mother (after the death of her grizzled, dyspeptic, trailer-bum boyfriend, played by Zach Galifianakis) is a cautionary hint: she’s ended up with Ray Liotta’s sleazebag copper, who looks ravaged and spent and wears a taut, pock-ridden face which has three operative modes: scary scumbag, confused convict and de-make-upped Joker. Twisp is soon after a Lindsey Lohan and Emma Stone hybrid (Portia Doubleday) who he’s met at a camping park. She’s not over keen: he’s too nice and ditheringly polite. But she’s bored so leads him on in swift coquettish mode until he’s infatuated. She soon leaves, packed off to French boarding school when the overtly-religious folks get wind of his aims. Soon enough, he follows.

Amidst all of this he’s also managed to derive a more assertive, alluring alter-ego, borne of an attempt at hybridising his paramour’s likes to decisively end her deliberations and conquer. So, there’s a bit of Serge Gainsbourg, a 70s moustache and a lot of insistently errant, pseudo-exotic brattishness. You can guess the success rate – and the amusing transgressions. Vehicles crashing is a theme.

Cera is perfect for this kind of thing, and it’s a funnier, sharper example of the genre than most.

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