In Review: Young Adult

Dir: Jason Reitman

Writer: Diablo Cody

Stars: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt

Rating: 3/5

Young Adult was a good film, but it didn’t stir up as much emotion or depth as Cody’s debut writing effort, Juno.

I had pretty high hopes for Young Adult.  Charlize Theron stars as Mavis Gary, a ghost writer of a quickly fading in popularity teen book series. Mavis is not exactly as polished as the characters she writes about. Mavis is sloppy, narcissistic, perpetually drunk, and a character you hate to love. She returns to her hometown after finding out her high school sweetheart, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), just had a baby with his wife. Filled with nostalgia and lingering feelings she pops in a mix tape and heads home.

Mavis is convinced Buddy is unhappy in his marriage and would happily return to the city with her and start back up where they left off.  Instead she runs into Matt (Patton Oswalt), whose locker was next to hers in high school, although she does not remember him until she sees his cane. He was beat up in high school because a few jocks believed he was gay and it left him crippled.

Mavis confesses her plan to Matt, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. I don’t want to give away what happens from this point on because the film does have some surprises. I would have given it a higher rating but some aspects of the story didn’t line up for me personally. I think the real point of the film was that living in the past doesn’t do you any favors. That didn’t mean she would stop drinking, having one night stands, or neglecting her dog.

I enjoyed how Mavis wrote what was happening in her life as a 37 year old in her books about teenagers. There were some particularly funny scenes where she would listen to actual teenage girls chatting and add the dialogue to her book. Mavis truly was living in the past. I enjoyed Theron as Mavis and even felt uncomfortable at moments when she was particularly vulnerable because it seemed so genuine. Ultimately the audience may feel the film was a bit predictable, but as I said there are a few surprises.

Young Adult was a realistic portrayal of an alcoholic young adult author, but lacked a certain “je ne sais quoi” I have come to expect from all involved.

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