Youth in Revolt

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Youth in Revolt Movie Poster Image
Story of "bad-boy" teen is funny, but also rough and raw.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While the lead character pays a certain price for his transgressions, things still work out relatively well for him in the end, despite his iffy, ill-considered behavior.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lead character Nick Twisp -- a teen anti-hero -- is a model of problematic behavior (from crime to smoking to sex), even with his intrinsic sweetness.


Some scuffling; some vehicular damage; some chase scenes. Explosions, arson.


Extensive discussions about and depictions of sex, including masturbation, kissing, condom use, and intercourse. Some male shirtlessness.


Constant strong language, including "s--t," "a--hole," "f--k" (and many variations on it), "bitch," "prick," "dick," "p---y," "bulls--t," "hell," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Copious comedic smoking by a high school boy's alter ego; also smoking by adults and references to alcohol. Extensive references to marijuana and "magic mushrooms," including unaware persons eating a meal dosed with said mushrooms. A boy surreptitiously has a girl's food and drink laced with sleeping pills without her knowledge so she'll flunk out of school.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although Youth in Revolt stars teen fave Michael Cera, this isn't his typical goofy/sweet role. The movie -- which is based on the same-named novel by C.D. Payne, which is also big with teens -- is full of sex, drugs, and bad behavior, including criminal activity, sexual activity, and drug use. All of this involves high-school aged kids, and while many of the film's more outlandish acts are carried out by the main character's alter ego, they still affect other characters. They also have some ramifications (including punishment), but ultimately the main character doesn't suffer too much -- so be ready to talk to your teens about real-life consequences for iffy behavior, no matter how "cool" it might seem. Expect lots of strong language (including "s--t," "f--k," and more) and a lot of sexual talk and references (including masturbation and condom use).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWELDADJ June 7, 2011


The film has probably about 25 to 30 f-bombs, not too many other expletives. One graphic cartoon depictions of sex (shows the act so extremely graphic). Violenc... Continue reading
Parent of a 4-year-old Written byselenium_user12... January 7, 2011
Teen, 15 years old Written bythecooldude1 February 3, 2011

stupid movie

this movie is about sex and drugs it should be 18+
Teen, 13 years old Written bymannymateo10isback January 25, 2011

this is totally terrible like the other raunchy movies

bad movie ever seen, should be rated NC-17

What's the story?

Exiled to a trailer park by his divorced mother and father's reduced circumstances, Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is hating life ... aside from the presence of girl-next-trailer Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), who immediately inspires Nick's affections. But those affections are upset by Sheeni's devout parents' plans to send her off to boarding school. Undaunted, Nick creates a swaggering bad-boy alter-ego named Francois Dillinger who has the guts and cool to pull off schemes that Nick would never attempt -- and proceeds to pursue Sheeni far beyond the bounds of reasonable behavior.

Is it any good?

Based on a popular cult novel, YOUTH IN REVOLT is a wild, raucous tale of mad young love and remarkably bad behavior that also serves as a great showcase for teen actor Cera. He plays both hero Nick and -- thanks to the miracle of computer effect -- his alter ego Francois to well-honed comedic effect. Cera is best known for being the stumbling, mumbling nice guy; Francois finally gives him a chance to strut and swagger, and he blossoms into it. The nicely tuned supporting cast -- including Justin Long, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, and Jean Smart -- also wrings nice moments out of the script in brief, brisk scenes.

The movie's road-trip narrative makes for a fairly episodic story, and some of Nick's attempts and actions in pursuit of Sheeni's affections are decidedly desperate, dangerous, and deranged; if you're looking for a story with a moral ending, you may want to look elsewhere. But Youth in Revolt has enough chaotic charm and feral funny stuff to make it a bizarre, blackly comedic entry in the teen-flick canon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the themes the film explores -- do teens have to act up, act out, and make mistakes? And does that really make them more interesting, charismatic, and attractive?

  • What are the challenges of depicting teen life in print and on film? Do teens respond to more realistic (or exciting) depictions of teen life than parents may feel comfortable with?

  • How does the film depict drug use? What are the real-life ramifications of drug use -- and the real consequences?

  • What messages does the movie send about teen sex? Parents, take this opportunity to talk with your teens about your family's values.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedies

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate