Pretentiousness is a universally-loathed quality in the movies, as in life, but in Miguel Arteta's Youth in Revolt, it's fully embraced in the form of 16-year-old hero Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) and his Francophile gal pal, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Their pretensions come from their own personal tastes (he loves Frank Sinatra, she Jean-Paul Belmondo) but they're also the tools with which the teens get what they want out of life – Nick uses his alter ego, Francois Dillinger, to win Sheeni's love, and Sheeni obsesses over running away to Paris as a way out of the rural California trailer park she calls home. Still, their self-serious discussions of Tokyo Story, Serge Gainsbourg, futurist percussive poetry, and Camus made my head ache with hipster overload. I already live in L.A., home of American Apparel and, I'm sure, one of the biggest per-capita consumers of PBR in the nation, and sometimes enough is enough.
But while Nick Twisp and Sheeni Saunders may be the most annoyingly pretentious movie teens in recent memory, they're not alone. Plenty of affected youngsters have come before them (not coincidentally, there was a boom of cinematic pretension in the last ten years, a decade that also saw the rise of the hipster IRL). Check out seven of my favorites, and feel free to tell me how pretentious this list is in the comments below.
Max Fischer, Rushmore (1998)
Fifteen-year-old Max Fischer is Rushmore Academy's worst student, mostly because he's more concerned with arts and leisure activities than studying. But for all of his cultured posturing, Max's preternatural air is also a defense mechanism against the harsh reality that he's just a barber's son, and Ms. Cross would rather date Bill Murray and Luke Wilson.