Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Young Adult

I enjoy Jason Reitman's films. I enjoy a good fart-fest as much as the next guy, but it's so nice to see comedies that try to be a little something more. That shouldn't be all that lofty of a goal, but in this day and age, that kind of comedy is really hard to come by.

Reitman's latest, Young Adult, written by his Juno collaborator, Diablo Cody, is one of his best films yet. Young Adult stars Charlize Theron as Mavis, a writer of a series of Sweet Valley High style of novels, who is unable to let go of her own High School years, clearly the best years of her life. Nowadays, though moderately successful in her career, she's a pretty hollow shell of who she once was. Pushing 40, she lives alone in Minneapolis, and spends her days watching Kardashians on TV, chugging Diet Coke from a 2 Liter bottle, and getting plastered.

One day, she gets a bulk email from an old high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) who just had a baby. This eats away at her until she snaps, packs up her little dog, and heads home, determined to win him back. In her deluded view, she's rescuing him from the nightmare of his life. In reality, he is happily married.

Charlize Theron gives a bold and funny performance as Mavis. She is truly a mess of a human being, thoroughly unlikeable, but totally watchable. Patton Oswalt is great as her foil, Matt, a former high school classmate that she forms a bond of mutual bitterness with. He never hesitates to tell her that she's a nutcase. Patrick Wilson is in a tough role as Buddy, the ex boyfriend. He's likeable and patient with Mavis, even though her behavior with him is often creepy and inappropriate.

Diablo Cody appears to have grown a great deal as a writer since Juno. The stylized dialogue in Juno that a lot of people found to be overly cutesy is not often found in Young Adult. The people talk like people, specifically people who came of age in the early 90's. With Young Adult, she has delivered a rather unflinching, darkly funny script about aging, depression, and the inability to let go of the past. There's a great turn towards the end that breaks all Hollywood conventions, and then laughs in their face.

I would rank Young Adult as my second favorite of Jason Reitman's films, behind Up in the Air. I still think he has yet to deliver his best film. I've enjoyed all of them, but none have truly blown me away. Looking at his track record so far, though, he has a good solid career ahead of him.


  1. This is the second review I've read, and it's pretty much like the other one, in that it tells me I'm going to love it.

    Looks like I have a few movies to watch in the next few weeks. This one will be one of them.

    Also....I love Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt. Very much.

  2. I love Theron and Oswalt, too. Theron has a great comedic instinct that she hasn't had a chance to use since her run on Arrested Development. And I like how choosey Oswalt is with roles. He only turns up in things he can really get behind.

  3. Theron gives a terrific performance. She elevates the movie by demonstrating her versatility. She almost makes you feel sympathetic towards this blonde, beautiful and sharp-witted anti-heroine. Oswalt deserves consideration for supporting actor as well. Great review.