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A film about Nick Twisp, an Unlucky Everydude who's unhappy with his position in life. But everything changes for him once his mother's current boyfriend owes a great deal of money; they flee the town on vacation to Clearlake and stay at a trailer park. There he meets Sheeni Saunders. Despite already having a boyfriend in the form of Trent Preston, a Jerk Jock who writes deep poetry, the two hit it off.
Once the vacations ends and Nick has to head back home, Sheeni and Nick formulate a plan: Sheeni will try to have Nick's father move to a town near her, and Nick will start acting out in order for his mother to kick him out and have him move in with his father. Once Sheeni finishes off her part of the plan, Nick gets creative with his: he creates an alter ego in the form of Francois, a Badass smoker who is everything Nick imagines Sheeni wants.
The trouble is things go exactly as planned.
Youth in Revolt provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: The girl at Sheeni's French prep school becomes disturbingly attached to Nick after he sends her a few flattering letters (to manipulate her).
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: The reason why Nick creates Francois is because Sheeni requests that Nick be "very, very bad." He complies and she wants him more than Trent after burning down half his town.
- Antiquated Linguistics: The juvenile characters astonishingly retain a sophisticated nomenclature.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Vijay, Nick's friend with a (possibly Indo) British accent, pretends to have an Indian accent in order to pretend to be a refugee.
- California Doubling: A bizarre inversion. The film is set in various California locations- Oakland, Clearlake, Berkeley, Ukiah, etc. Yet it was filmed entirely in Michigan, with some reshoots in Louisiana. Obviously, Michigan looks nothing like California, though it could be said that the exact setting of the story is unimportant.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: The first scene of the movie is of Nick finishing up...
- Disney Acid Sequence: After Nick takes 'shrooms.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Nick burns down half his town. His punishment is three months in juvi.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Apparently so. Nick wins Sheeni's love, and she agrees to wait for him while he's in juvie. Whatever he may have done, no one can say he didn't work to earn her love.... But, if you keep watch during the credits, a cartoon epilogue scene plays where Nick escapes from juvenile hall and finds Sheeni driving down the road, so then he gets in the car with her and they fly around the world.
- Easily Forgiven: Sheeni forgives Nick at the end and agrees to wait for him while he's in juvi. After he got her expelled from the school she had always wanted to attend by having a girl drug her so she'd fall asleep in class.
- Fan Service: Sheeni in her bikini and sleepwear, Taggarty in her sexy black underwear. And, for Michael Cera fans, he spends a fair amount of the movie bare-chested and/or in boxers.
- Girl Next Door: Sheeni.
- Gone Horribly Right: Nick and Francois successfully act out, but it results in burning down half the town with his mother's car. Though Nick gets what he wants, by the end he has to deal with the consequences.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Nick really wants to get laid. He comments when narrating about his parents and their partners that he's the only one who isn't getting any.
- Jekyll and Hyde
- Jerkass: Jerry, Trent.
- Hell even Nick for that matter
- Laser-Guided Karma: Jerry screws over a trio of sailors by selling them a car that immediately breaks down. They respond by disassembling the car, and reassembling it piece by piece in his living room.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Addressed, but subverted by the end.
Nick: I can feel in my heart that Sheeni is in love with me, not with some fantasy lover in a French romantic novel but me, Nick Twisp. It's funny, after all that, Nick Twisp was enough.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Nick in a wig and a dress as "Carlotta" easily fools Sheeni's parents. But not Trent.
- Split Personality: By Nick's choosing.
- Stalking Is Love: Trent eventually comes to believe this.
- Really Gets Around: Sheeni's roommate, Taggarty. She takes photos of the guys she sleeps with, pins them on her bulletin board, and gives them grades.
- Travel Montage: In the form of animations.
- Vinyl Shatters: Francois breaks his vinyls apart.