Youth in Revolt
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Starring: Michael Cera,
Portia Doubleday
Rated R for sexual content, language and drug use
1 hr. 30 min.

Since Superbad, Michael Cera has perfected the art of portraying the nerdy, sensitive outcast — complete with his trademark, slightly confused grin and endearing, awkward demeanor. It’s only fitting that he should get top billing in a coming-of-age teen fantasy where those talents are encouraged and amplified.

His character, Nick Twisp, has clearly been dealt a bad hand. His divorced, screechy mother uses him to collect a larger welfare check each month, and his father is the bug-eyed Steve Buscemi. (You’ve seen him in every single Adam Sandler movie). Fortunately, Nick grew up to be a sensitive Fellini-loving high school intellectual who still — of course — has yet to lose his virginity. Enter Sheeni, another high-brow high-schooler who has the misfortune of having ludicrously strict “religious” parents with absolutely no taste or sense of humor. Nick and Sheeni live close to each other in an unfortunate trailer park for one summer and seemingly fall for each other.

At this point, Youth in Revolt begins. It’s only when Nick has to leave the trailer park and go back to Oakland with his mother and her (hilarious) white-trash boyfriend (Zack Galifianakis) that he hatches a plan to leave his miserable life and find his way back to Sheeni.  Two words: alter ego.

That’s right; Michael Cera willingly becomes like Jim Carrey in Me, Myself and Irene, transforming himself into the suave French bad boy Francois. He’s hoping that the alter ego gives him the guts to get kicked out of his home and on the road to sweep Sheeni off her feet. What ensues is a slapdash teen movie that has roots in everything from broad comedy (Harold and Kumar) to the nerdier ’80s classics  (Better Off Dead and Weird Science).

While it may not be a cult classic yet (don’t rule out the possibility — this could easily become this year’s Adventureland), the film has enough wit to know its place among the teen movie pantheon and still strive to present a fresh spin on the angsty-est years of one’s youth.

It’s Complicated
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Starring: Alec Baldwin,
Meryl Streep, Steve Martin
Rated R for some drug
content and sexuality
1 hr. 54 min.

It’s no secret that there’s a very specific audience for this movie: women older than 50. Over the holidays, despite any negative reviews, they came and they saw this Santa Barbara rom-com in droves. It’s easy to see why: It’s Complicated has obvious charms.

The film stars three of the most recognizable current onscreen personalities, two of which are on top of their game in the film (Steve Martin is, regrettably, exceedingly boring compared to Streep and Baldwin). It also has an undeniably intriguing (for the boomer generation, anyway) premise: what if you hooked up with your ex 10 years later? And what if he loved it so much that he wouldn’t go away?

Straddling the line between desperately pathetic and comically amusing, Alec Baldwin stars as the graying pig-headed ex who finally comes to his senses and realizes that Meryl Streep is the woman for him. It seems that ever since Tina Fey gave him a much needed makeover as the bullish, arrogant (but somehow likable) CEO in 30 Rock, Baldwin has become surprisingly ubiquitous on the large and small screens — and has relished every moment of it.

While the second coming of his career may hinge less upon this film and more on his turn as a host for the Oscars, he doesn’t disappoint as Meryl Streep’s perpetual foil. He gleefully plays footsie with her under the table and strips down to showcase his (surprisingly hilarious) lumpy profile for his shocked co-star. And yes, he makes sure to one-up Steve Martin in almost every scene that they appear in together. Really, would you have expected anything less?                      

erik@vcreporter.com