“Young Adult” Movie Review


     I'll tell you what. If you ever wanted to see a film where it's protagonist is not only the villain, but she remains that way through the duration and ending of the film, then "Young Adult" is for you. Charlene Theron plays a different kind of "Monster" in this film directed by Jason Reitman ("Juno", "Up in the Air") and written by Diablo Cody ("Juno").  For certain, Theron's character, Mavis Gary is a disturbing individual.  She's quite literally ruthless and is oblivious to anything that stands in her path toward her one apparent goal. High school sweetheart Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).

     Mavis is a young adult fiction writer for a book series that was once popular but is now being cancelled.  She does't exactly get credit for what she writes, since she's a ghost writer for the credited author, and she seems to have lost her inspiration to finish the last novel, perhaps due to her being a raging alcoholic.  Her sporadic attempts at finishing the last book normally come from what she overhears teenagers talking about in fast food restaurants.  She's recently divorced and lives alone in a Minneapolis apartment building.  Many scenes in the film begin with Mavis awakening from a drunken state, face down on her bed, fully clothed and on top of the covers.  To put it lightly, her life really seems to stink.

     One day, she's sifting through email and comes across a baby announcement from her now married with children high school flame, Buddy Slade.  On a whim, she packs up and decides to drive back to her hometown of Mercury to rekindle her relationship with buddy.  This sets the film's plot in motion and the remainder of the story is dedicated to the lengths Mavis goes to in order to hook up with Buddy.  It's truly sad.

     Along the way, Mavis runs into another high school acquaintance whom she only remembers because he was beaten severely by a bunch of jocks who thought he was gay.  Matt, played masterfully by Patton Oswalt, serves as Mavis' conscience throughout the film and through his own desperation serves as her friend as well.  It helps that he makes his own "Star Wars" themed bourbon in his garage since Mavis likes to spend her every waking hour completely intoxicated.  In the end, Matt proves to be a different person than the nerd she remembered in high school and Oswalt plays every scene perfectly as his character becomes emotionally attached to Mavis in the most subtle of ways.

     I'm not sure if the filmmakers intended Young Adult to be a comedy or not, but I don't recall laughing much.  I see this as more of a character study than anything.  Audiences probably won't be happy with the unconventional ending since their really is no fix for Mavis and her antics.  At the end, you get the feeling she really didn't learn anything from the trouble she causes and would likely wake up the next day and do something equally as out of line to someone else.  On the flip side, I really like the way Diablo Cody writes her characters, particularly the attention to detail.  As was the case in "Juno", you feel as though you can relate to her characters as they come across as incredibly human.  The dialogue spoken seems in tune with popular culture and it's clear Cody has her finger on the pulse of everyday people who live through everyday problems.

     It's not Charleze Theron's fault she is playing a character who is meant to come across as a queen bitch, but she has done so very well and is excellent as usual.  No doubt, there are plenty of Mavis Gary's out there and Theron plays her bad side as good as you would expect from an Oscar winning actress of her caliber (she also has a spot in my "Friends Top 5"!).  Young Adult also marks a third solid outing for director Jason Reitman, who seems to choose material that doesn't necessarily put people in extraordinary circumstances, but rather circumstances that seem all to familiar to the rest of us.  GRADE:  B+