Release Date: Dec. 16, 2011
Running Time: 94 minutes
You can go home again—but sometimes it’s just best to stay away. Reuniting director Jason Reitman with his Junoscreenwriter Diablo Cody, Young Adult follows the tragicomic attempt by an emotionally unstable teen literature novelist to return to her small hometown to steal her ex-boyfriend away from his wife. A birth announcement prompts Mavis Gary (Charlene Theron) to drop everything, including writing the final book in a series of high school-set novels, to leave Minneapolis and return to her hometown of Mercury to rescue her ex (Patrick Wilson) from the wife and child she believes keeps him stuck in a boring existence. The only person who knows Mavis’s devious plan, and tries to make her see reason, is Matt, a former classmate played by Patton Oswalt with a keen sense of compassion. Theron throws herself into Mavis’ mid-life crisis with gleeful abandon. She’s unapologetically mean and nasty without glossing over how pathetic and pitiful she is at all times. The occasionally amusing but ultimately cheerless Young Adult doesn’t know what to do about Mavis. Reitman and Cody spend so much time tearing Mavis to shreds but it’s odd to find them bolstering her superiority complex even after all is revealed to her ex and his family. Reitman and Cody do not appear to be interested in imparting any life lessons to this sour girl. That’s fine. We’re asked to take Mavis on her own terms, which may be impossible for some to do given how unpleasant she comes off. Your reaction to Mavis really depends on whether you envy or despise the writer’s life she lives and how much of it can be blamed on her past history with her ex. So you can’t be judged if you fail to find sympathy in Mavis and instead view her with a judgmental eye. It also is easy to see some of Cody in Mavis. Remember, when people turned on Juno, they took aim at the hip slang that came out of the mouths of Cody’s high school geeks. No such jargon can be found in Young Adult, but it is a character study that occasionally questions whether someone in their 30s can even begin to know what goes on in the head of a teen, even if they themselves happen to be suffering from a severe case of arrested development.
Aired: Dec. 15, 2011
Web site: http://www.youngadultmovie.com/