Youth In Revolt
Youth In Revolt plays out like a crass episode of the Adventures of Pete and Pete, except lacking that shows sweetness and observational sense of humor. I have to admit from the get-go that at some point I stopped watching Youth In Revolt and began watching it from the corner of my eye as I made dinner. I don't think I missed anything, but if this happens to be your favorite film of the year then feel free to chime in at any time.
Just kidding. This is the internet and you're reading this, so it's pretty difficult to chime in. But feel free to post a comment or what have you.
Despite the common argument that Michael Cera is a one note kind of actor, here he actually shines with the addition of his alter-ego Francois, a smooth talking/frequently smoking French lad. His abrupt and sarcastic reactions certainly do result in genuine chuckles, but to be honest the overall crassness of the film manages to overwhelm the humor. I'm not saying it could be funny, but here it just doesn't work. It leaves a sour taste that taints whatever innocence the film may have, and considering that I feel that bitter taste may be part of the films intent, I simply can't quite write it off. The redeeming ending, the one that predictably shows that all a guy needs to be is to be himself, further negates what the film pursues throughout its running time.
This is a movie that was written to be more of a sitcom than a film, with frequent beats that seem to scream out for a laugh track that sadly never arrives. I can see how a car disassembled and then reassembled in a living room by a group of angered Navy boys has its humor, but on screen it's handled in such a way that I was left gazing with a detached sense of amusement. Maybe I was laughing on the inside, but I was so disappointed it wasn't out loud the effect was completely lost on me. The filmmakers hands, as well as that of its playing parts, are constantly visible on the screen. The result isn't a complete story as much as an attempt by its makers to be considered as hilarious, and in my opinion a film needs both if its heart is going to be in the right place.
Considering that my last 3D movie experience was The Final Destination, it doesn't appear to me that Avatar has a lot of competition to contend with. I must say that both films left me with a similar empty feeling inside, a feeling that only could have been subsided if the movie was in some way capable of making me "feel" the world around me, from the floating droplets of dew to the somewhat awkward alien sex scene. Then again, I suppose if the movie did that then it would wander from the edges of the theater and into the outskirts of an amusement park.
Avatar doesn't want to be a film, it wants to be a ride, and I'm very okay with that. It's a fun experience, and a certainly worthwhile distraction. The content of this distraction however can only be summarized as an excuse. The only function of Avatar's story is to take us from set-piece to set-piece. But just take a look around you, at every corner of the screen you'll find floating mountains, glowing plant life, and towering blue men.
Here we have the story of Jake, a marine of sorts who frequently yells "Holy sh#%!" at just about everything in sight. After an extended stay aboard a space shuttle in cryogenic sleep, he awakes to find himself approaching the lush planet of Pandora populated by the Na'vi who are a group of not-so-little, but very blue, men and women. Holy Sh#%. Previously crippled in whatever war is going on at the totally trashed Earth, Jake finds a new pair of legs by means of his avatar which allows him to roam the toxic planet as a blue man himself. The only bad news goes for the Na'vi who roam directly over a deposit of unobotanatiumiteawhatever, which, although probably removable by numerous means, is decided by the military to be excavated with explosions and bullets. Essentially, shooting up the trees and the ground.
What follows is, as many have expressed, a variation of Pocahontas, Ferngully, and a little bit of Starship Troopers mixed in for good measure. Jake continues to holler while his friends yell "I didn't sign up for this sh#%!" The dialogue never develops much further beyond that.
Although I'm generally okay with "pro-environment/anti-war" messages, Avatar seems keen to talk down to its audience. "Look at what you've done," James Cameron seems to be yelling, from his mansion with a friggin Mech Warrior on the front lawn. "You should be ashamed of yourselves." As an optimist, I don't think everyone is willing to blow up everything in sight to get at natures goods. Bombs are just too expensive.
I don't question the films imagination and visionary prowess, on this alone I think the film has found its success. In the coming years however, this may only be as visually stimulating as a video game.