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“Young Adult” – Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

December 17, 2011

It’s safe to say that Jason Reitman has made quite an impression on the film community as a prestigious director. His indie comedy hit, “Thank You For Smoking” is one of my favorites, as is his teen pregnancy dramedy, “Juno”, as well as his modern “Death of a Salesman” dramedy, “Up in the Air”, so I was very excited to see his next film, “Young Adult”, which would reunite him with Oscar winning screenwriter of “Juno”, Miss Diablo Cody.

Cody is an interesting piece of work. Coming from a colorful background as a stripper & blog writer, then writing her first movie, and winning the Oscar for it. She was a true underdog story that seemed to come out of nowhere. The world was her oyster, and what does she do after winning that prominent award? She writes “Jennifer’s Body”. I think we all would like to pretend that never happened. Cody comes back a few years later to a suitable territory, writing a movie about an awkward character, with a lot of emotional problems, and a fanatical personality.

Having Reitman & Cody return together would seem like the perfect storm for success, and in some ways the movie does succeed certain elements, but I feel like it sort of ran out of steam near the end. The movie ends with a, ‘really you’re ending the movie here?’ kind of ending. “Up in the Air” did the same, but it had a pay off that seemed more fitting and in some ways rewarding. Here, it’s cold & a bit empty. The movie bluntly shows us how certain people will never let go of their past, and how it can emotionally break them down.

Charlize Theron’s character, Mavis, a young adult author who’s mentally trapped in the world she has created in the books she at one time successfully sold. She has the mentality still of some bitchy high school Queen who thinks she’s better than everyone, but when in actuality she’s a slob who sleeps in clothes that are days old, drinks from two liter Diet Coke bottles from the fridge, and eats Lean Cuisine microwave dinners. She’s anything but happy, and yet she’s having a hard time getting smacked with reality.

Mavis learns that her old high school flame (Patrick Wilson), Buddy Slade, just had a baby with his wife (Elizabeth Reaser). While in the middle of writing her final book in the series, she decides to go back to her old hometown and steal Buddy away from his, as she puts it, prison of unhappiness. While back in Mercury, MN, Mavis runs into an old classmate from high school, Matt (Patton Oswalt), who was never a popular kid to begin with, the jocks were ruthless to him that they beat him senselessly leaving Matt brutally damaged, with permanent reparations. Mavis & Matt rekindle what high school was like, while trying to spark an odd friendship. Matt tries to be the voice of reason telling Mavis that what she’s doing back in Mercury is beyond crazy.

I’ll start with the positives, the casting of Theron & Oswalt are brilliant, for the both of them this is one of the best performances in their career, especially Theron, who I believe hasn’t done anything this good since “Monster”. Oswalt hasn’t really been given the chance to expand on his other talents as an actor and it’s great to see he’s in good company here. The stories overall theme is pretty good, how it shows that people will never seem to change and even when they seem to get that moment of possible redemption, they will tarnish it because they’re blinded by reality.

During the movie, we witness Mavis writing her final young adult novel, the story within the story is clear depiction of what is going on; a girl is trying to win back her ex, and yada yada, you get it. I get it, but I don’t think it was really needed, it just seemed to obvious of a story element to move the movie along and it’s hard to watch this movie, because it does drag, even for a runtime of an hour and a half. Having said that, I do like the fact that Reitman & Cody decide to go dark here, there really isn’t much of a cookie cutter, sweet, happy ending in this movie, unless you’re as mentally unstable as the lead, which in that case good luck with yourself.

“Young Adult” may garner award nominations in this Oscar season for it’s direction and acting for both Theron & Oswalt, if not Oswalt, then definitely Theron. But, other than that, there isn’t much else to the movie. Younger viewers of today & high school 90’s generationers will be able to identify with this movie on some kind of level, I did. I knew a few kids in high school who were like Mavis, and if they ended up like what she’s become in the movie, then that’s the best kind of revenge the unpopular ones could have ever asked for. It would be so funny if it wasn’t so sad.

GRADE: B-

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2011 10:59 pm

    Awesome work friend, I hope to see this soon. Theron is such a good actress…. and beautiful haha.

    • December 17, 2011 11:42 pm

      Yeah, even with the few flaws this movie endured, Theron was still perfect, and I stand by it that this was one of her best roles in the past few years.

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