There seem to be more
teen virgins in the movies who wear on their shirt sleeves than
in reality. Unlike in real life, they're usually heroes. When
I was a teenager, there may have been a few virgins, but they
pretty much kept that information to themselves as long as they
possibly could. The ones who didn't were the assholes who handed
out Art Chick tracts or bent the curve in science class. Contrary
to popular belief, they weren't the meek who would inherit the
earth. Now, all that saving themselves didn't amount to a God
damn hill of beans, except those people are even more bitter
for getting the crap beat out of them for not having porking
When I was twelve,
I saw the hell on earth that was coming for teen virgins. That's
why I took the first opportunity I had to get my cherry popped.
It was with a pinochle partner of my grandmother's. An elderly
woman, I admit, but she always wore attractive polyester pantsuits.
Plus, she had experience. I didn't know when she asked me to
water her garden while she was on vacation that 1) she wasn't
going on vacation, 2) she had recently fallen in the bath and
suffered severe brain trauma, and 3) she was married.
Losing my virginity
was horrific, painful and sad. I had no idea that fifty years
f experience could make someone so dirty, and I didn't expect
there to be all that blood. Still, avoiding virginity ultimately
only cost me eight months of counseling and the recurring nightmare
of having my head shoved into an oven where crackers are kept
to stay crisp. That, and after she died, her husband moved on
to our street to live ten more years, so I had to spend a decade
riding my bike the long way around to the liquor store to avoid
him. Once the therapy was over and my suicidal thoughts had
subsided to normal levels, though, I held my head up high on
campus and declared, with honesty, that I had had sex, with
a woman. And I would kick the ass of anyone who hadn't. Except
I proudly mention
that I have had sex because I am still proud, and I bring it
up all the time to new acquaintances. Also, Youth in Revolt
is another coming-of-age teen comedy about a kid who ýcomes
of ageţ by coming inside a girl. Nobody ever comes of age by
killing a mastodon anymore. Michael Cera, eternal dorky teen,
plays Nick Twisp, a geeky intellectual into reading and listening
to Frank Sinatra records. Those details are boilerplate "edgy
and unwittingly hip" teenager. He lives with a trashy mom (Jean
Smart) who likes sloppy, unkind men. When his mom's current
boyfriend (Zack Galifianakis) rips off some sailors, the family
must hide out in a mobile home park for a week. In the park,
Cera meets Portia Doubleday, the bad girl daughter of strict
Christian parents. Actually, she's not so much bad as she is
drawn to bad boys. Or so Cera believes, anyway. She loves Serge
Gainsbourg records and anything else French. One thing I have
learned in my time on earth is to avoid any native English speaker
who claims to love Serge Gainsbourg. Those people might as well
just peel back their skin and show you how full of shit they
To win Doubleday,
milquetoast Cera invents an alter ego. It's not quite an id,
but it's the pointy-headed kid's idea of a rebel: a cigarette-smoking
version of himself in white loafers and trousers. Much like
what my first lover's husband wore. The later ego convinces
Cera to smash records and burn down Berkeley. Good lord, can
you imagine if that happened in real life? The entire state
of California would be forever poisoned with the smell of burnt
hair and patchouli oil.
Cera believes he
can't live without Doubleday. With his alter ego, he schemes
to be near her. When she is sent to French boarding school,
Cera steals a car to visit her, and later plots to get her expelled.
He smokes pot, eats psychedelic mushrooms and steals another
car in the hopes of finally sticking his filthy dick inside
her. By the way, I don't know for a fact that Cera's dick is
filthy. I'm taking his word for it.
Youth in Revolt
feels a shitload like it was made in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
I haven't been to Brooklyn in several years, but I keep hearing
it is overrun by stereotyped hoodied hipsters who pretend to
be low-fi, into indie rock, but who will ultimately get married,
get shitty jobs, get overprotective about their kids and turn
Williamsburg into a yuppie hell. In other words, it's a place
where people think a hoodie and vinyl records are the same thing
as a personality. This movie is similar. It is made up of touchstones
of fey, faux-nerd hipsterisms than don't expose anything true.
What's supposed to
make Youth in Revolt different from every other teen
comedy is that Cera plays two characters: himself and his dangerous
alter ego. Too bad his alter ego is just same as every other
teen comedy's wacky sidekick. You know, the ýbest friendţ who
gives bad, outrageous advice. Here, he's still a lot like Cera.
That is, pretty sleepy, low on charisma and looking a lot like
the kids coming and going from the chemo lab around the corner
from my apartment. In Youth in Revolt we get a low-energy
protagonist and a low-energy chorus.
The problem is Cera's
got no range. He's pretty much the same guy in either role,
except he says dirty words and has better one-liners as the
toughie. His character's lot in life isn't that different than
a shitload of teen comedy movies that came before either. He
is in love with a girl he thinks is out of his league, so he
must reinvent himself to win her heart. His success will be
measured by whether he pos his cherry. And in the end he must
confess who he truly is, and guess what? She likes him anyway!
Youth in Revolt
annoyed me in how much ground it covered with this basic and
overdone plot. I mean literal ground. From Oakland to Ukiah,
down to Santa Cruz and back to Ukiah, with a new band of characters
in each locale. So many actors and their roles are completely
wasted. In particular, what's the deal with Zack Galifianakis?
He gets a lot of parts in movies, but few of them know what
the fuck to do with him. Hey Hollywood grassfuckers, just putting
the guy in your movie doesn't make it cool and edgy. You have
to actually give him something funny to do. Justin Long is similarly
mistreated in a dead-end role as a drug-taking, past-life believer.
Steve Buscemi gets short shrift as Cera's father. Why the hell
have great character actors in the movie if you don't know what
the fuck to do with them?
Briefly, Adhir Kalyan
becomes Cera's best friend, goes on a road trip with him, experiences
hijinks and then disappears completely. Doubleday's ex-boyfriend
briefly appears and, without irony, looks to be the preppie
villain from every John Hughes movies. I expected a movie that
wanted to be hip and indie-feeling to come up with a more interesting
foil than a dude from Haircut 100. He could have turned out
to be a much better guy than Cera always thought. He could have
been in a wheelchair, or a Hells Angel with a sensitive streak.
Director Miguel Arteta and writer Gustin Nash could have give
the story moral ambiguity.
But no. Youth
in Revolt isn't interested in being edgy or different. That's
too much trouble. It's just the same old shit with a better
soundtrack and hipper cast. Maybe we won't notice. Two Fingers.
to tell Filthy Something?