Verdict: 3 / 5
Cruel and mean-spirited, Young Adult is the feel-bad movie of the year. Broken and depressed characters battle their inner demons and learn valuable life lessons in this darkly funny comedy. Brought to us from the duo behind Juno, writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, the film explores beauty, vanity and selfishness. South African-born model Charlize Theron is faultless as the condescending and hateful alcoholic Mavis Gary, a fish out of water.
Sometimes in order to heal… a few people have to get hurt. – Mavis Gary
A self-absorbed 30-something ghostwriter bites off more than she can chew when returns to her small town home in hopes of stealing her high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson plays Buddy Slade) away from his wife (Elizabeth Reaser). It’s not surprising that Mavis finds success in writing young adult novels considering her immature actions and teenage fantasies. She whines, throws fits, and drinks like a rebellious teen with no sense of responsibility. The film title, Young Adult, doesn’t refer to her job, but her arrested development.
She soon meets a cripple named Matt (Patton Oswalt), ex-locker neighbor and one of the most unpopular kids during her high school years. The two start off an odd uneasy friendship, with Matt constantly trying to convince Mavis that her troublesome plan will only lead to disaster. But she refuses to listen. We see the climatic crash ending coming a mile away but can’t keep our eyes off Mavis as she continues headfirst toward certain tragedy.
Mavis, I would keep all of this to yourself. I would find a therapist. – Matt
Theron is, as always, superb. She channels her best Mean Girls impression – a half sneer at every person she meets. But even still Young Adults still feels light on wit and short on laughs. The opening scenes drag and the ending is left unresolved. While the film works its way past the standard redemption resolution (no happy ending here), it’s by no means a perfect film. It’s hardly likeable, but it certainly is clever.