Gallagher Says – Youth in Revolt

Michael Cera is one of those actors that plays one type of role, and you can never tell if he’s a good actor or just being himself. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed his characters in movies and shows like, Arrested Development, Juno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and This Is the End. I had heard good things about his performance in Youth in Revolt, so I decided to check it out.

Michael Cera plays Nick Twisp, your typical mild mannered, hopeless romantic teenager. Needless to say, Nick isn’t popular with the girls, but he dreams of better days ahead. Nick’s small town life and the lack of attention from either of his separated parents don’t promise to make this easy.

Nick has a stroke of luck when his mom’s boyfriend angers some navy men, and they have to go stay at his trailer till the heat blows over. At the trailer park, Nick meets Sheeni, the most perfect girl in the world, but as he’s going to leave again, she tells him he needs to be a bad boy to get kicked out of his home and be able to stay with her.

The story of the film is a pretty standard good guy goes bad to win over the heart of a girl. What sets this apart from others of the same type is it tone. This movie melds the coming to age/sex comedy genre with a Napoleon Dynamite sense of style and uniqueness.

A big thing that creates this tone is the way in which the characters talk to each other. Everyone in the film use grand technical phrases when expressing dramatic thoughts. It expresses how all of them are trapped in their own poetic worlds.

Another point of interest in the film is Nick’s creation of an alter ego that only he can see. This alter ego is also played by Michael Cera and adds depth to his role as it is Nick’s evil persona, hellbent on getting everything Nick desires.

My Favourites from the film: The cast is great. Michael Cera delivers on the promise of the duel roles. The supporting cast is also well chosen. Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Jade Fusco, and Ray Liotta all make great additions to the film. The dialogue is fun, and the film has some stand out stop motion animation sequences.

My Less enjoyed parts: Justin Long as Sheeni’s brother just feels pointless in the film, and he doesn’t do much. There were some points in the film where I wasn’t sure if much time was supposed to have passed or not which made me unsure of how fast the pacing of the story’s development was. The plot’s predictability due to it’s strict following of it’s genre’s structure wasn’t very good either.

My Recommendation: I’d say give it a try. While the story isn’t very original, the setting and style make it feel fresh. It’s funny, and definitely a great film for Michael Cera fans or fans of smaller comedies.

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Gallagher Says – A Life Less Ordinary

In my search for films by one of my favourite directors, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, and 127 Hours), I came across A Life Less Ordinary. It is the third film he ever directed and features Danny Boyle regular Ewan McGregor.

Ewan McGregor plays Robert Lewis, a man who is fired from his custodial job because he dreams of a better future and a robot can do his job for less. He ends up kidnapping his boss’s spoiled daughter. Cameron Diaz plays the daughter, Celine Naville. Robert’s innocent nature betrays him in this endeavour, but Celine is there to teach him how to be a professional kidnapper.

The film has a bookend plot with celestial beings being sent to aide in a romance. Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo play angels O’Reilly and Jackson, respectively. During the course of the film, they take on the role of bounty hunters sent by Celine’s father to rescue her, but they always have their own motives.

When I bought this film, I figured it’d be an okay Danny Boyle film. Something along the lines of The Beach that doesn’t quite live up to his better films. I was pleasantly surprised. While its not as good as Slumdog Millionaire or Trainspotting, it was a very enjoyable ride.

With the weird concept and it’s backwoods style, I couldn’t help thinking it was a better Coen film than Raising Arizona was. I couldn’t help laughing at the ridiculous concept of a kidnapper asking the kidnapee about how to properly pull it off. Ewan McGregor does a great job of grounding this into a relatable performance.

I found the cast in this was very hit or miss. McGregor was great, but Diaz was very inconsistent. She seemed intriguing and engaging is some scenes then felt very wooden and bland in others. Lindo’s role didn’t have much, but he was good in the moments he got. Hunter was fun and provided a very unhinged performance. The thing that bothered me was the high-pitched voice she used. Ian Holm and Stanley Tucci were enjoyable as Celine’s father and ex, respectively.

My Favourites from the film: The craziness of the film made for a fun ride, and Diaz’s scenes teaching McGregor how to kidnap were great. It was the first film I’d seen by Danny Boyle that didn’t have any extreme stylistic choices, so that made it easier to get behind the weird concept. The stop-motion end titles sequence was a pleasure to watch.

My Less enjoyed parts: Aside from the issues I had with the performances, the main problem was some of the angel scenes that were a bit too far out there or distracting. The accents threw me off, so I was never quite sure where it was all supposed to be taking place. It hits a bit of a slump before the third act.

My Recommendation: If you’re looking for an odd, small scale comedy, I’d say pick this up. Be ready for something weird and inconsistent. Don’t expect it to follow a contemporary story structure. I would definitely suggest it for fans of the CoenBothers or David O. Russell.