Michael Cera has established himself as the sensitive, self-effacing symbol of geek chic, whose trademark monotone seems at once unassuming and laden with irony. In Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt, he cuts loose. Nobody will confuse Francois, his chain-smoking, mustachioed wild-man, with the sort of characters played by Jack Black, a master at embodying the untamed id. But it’s a refreshing change of pace.
Cera plays two roles here: Nick, a shy, retiring teen, and Francois, his rascal of an alter ego. Nick is polite, virginal and far too timid to land the girl of his dreams. That would be the lovely Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), who has a boyfriend but seems open to collecting another.
Michael Cera is a geek poet and he knows it. He’s the stealthily saucy secret sauce - a cunning mixture of naivete, vulnerability, and nerdiness - that made Superbad, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Juno, Arrested Development and the online Clark and Michael shorts that much better, healing the wounds of 90-pound weaklings and cubicle-bound bookish waifs with his empathetic portraits of brainy goofballs with love in their hearts and stars in their eyes.