A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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).
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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.
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