Youth in Revolt (15)

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The Independent Culture

The impression that Michael Cera, star of Superbad and Juno, had overdrawn on his gawky, sweet-faced charm seemed unarguable in the light of the daft caveman comedy Year One.

Could he really get away with playing another of his vulnerable, virginal but deep-down-loveable teens? Miguel (The Good Girl) Arteta, adapting from the novel by C D Payne, has somehow enabled him to. He plays Nick Twisp, whose cinephile tastes and Sinatra worship can't hide the longing in his heart for a girl to love. And – a miracle! – while on a family vacation he meets one, Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), who returns his interest up to a point but really wants a romance with someone louche and dangerous and preferably French. So Nick dreams up an alter ego named Francois, who will be cool and reckless in a way he himself could never be – "I'm here to rescue you from yourself," says this laid-back dude, played by Cera with pencil moustache and white slacks. The contrast between Nick and his bad angel whips up a pleasing comedy of delinquency, flavoured along the way by reliable character turns from Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart and Ray Liotta. But it's Cera who pulls the thing together, his oddly sheep-like face an endearing barometer of anxiety and hurt: it should be irritating by now, but it's not. And he gets some killer lines. Eager to go hiking in the woods with Sheeni, Nick makes light of being ill-equipped for the trek: "I enter the wilderness with nothing more than my journal and a childlike sense of wonder."