Thursday, January 7, 2010
Oh, someone deliver us from boys and their self-entitlement, boys and their cluelessness, boys and their rage when male privilege fails to extend itself toward them in a manner they deem proper. If boys don’t want to live in the world that the rest of us live in, well, howdy doody, tough noogies for you. The rest of us don’t always get what we want, either. Deal with it.
And please, horny teenaged lads, do not heed the “advice” of movies like Youth in Revolt, which mistakes being an unappealing doormat reeking of desperation (which girls don’t like) for being a genuinely nice guy (which girls do like), and believes the remedy is to become a felonious jerk, because girls find felonious jerks irresistible.
We don’t. Except the fake girls in movies like this.
Guys, seriously: Girls think it’s weird and creepy and wildly inappropriate when you tell them, five minutes after meeting them, that you love them, as Michael Cera’s doofus high-schooler Nick Twisp does here. Girls are not charmed by the passive-aggressive excuse for your misdeeds that “everything [you] did was for her,” as Nick tells the cool, beautiful girl he’s infatuated with, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Girls are generally not attracted to boys who entirely subsume their own personality by insisting that “[you] want what [she] wants.”
Except in ridiculous movies like this one, which appears not to hope that you will take it as satire but as merely a comedy with a slightly heightened sense of reality. Director Miguel Arteta appears to have forgotten that he once made a couple of pointed, truly oddball movies in The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck, though it might be less distasteful. Because the world really is full of boys like Nick – cute enough, but hardly, you know, Zac Efron or anything, and neither suave nor rich nor overly endowed with anything that boys like Nick think girls want in a boy – who all believe they nevertheless deserve to have the hottest girlfriend ever. For Nick, it’s just a coincidental bonus that Sheeni happens to share some of his outre interests, like classic pop music and foreign movies; he’d already fallen in love with her at first sight. Because she’s, you know, hot.
Perhaps the series of popular young-adult novels by C.D. Payne upon which this yawner of an adolescent wish-fulfillment fantasy is based is more daring than scriptwriter Gustin Nash wrung out of it. The gimmick of Nick’s alter ego taking the persona of “Francois Dillinger” is laughable: Cera is a sweet presence, as always, but if he’s got even the slender dangerous streak, a conceit like Francois requires to be effective onscreen, there’s no evidence of it. Slapping a skinny moustache on Cera and letting a cigarette dangle from his lips ain’t doin’ it.
There’s nothing daring here, though someone clearly thinks there is: Conforming to conventional stereotypes about love and sex does not a “revolt” make – nor make up for the ridicule they so richly deserve, which might have been tolerable.