Young Adult (2011)

Release date: December 9, 2011
Director: Jason Reitman
Screenplay by: Diablo Cody
Cast: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe, Hettienne Park, J.K. Simmons

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, who previously worked together in Juno and Jennifer’s Body, join forces once again in Young Adult, a dramedy film that examines prolonged adolescence in adults.

Young Adult follows Mavis Gary (Theron), a 37-year-old ghost writer working on the Waverly Prep series of young adult novels, who is on a deadline with her editor to finish the last book of the soon-to-be-canceled series. When she recieves an email with pictures of the newborn daughter of her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade (Wilson) and his wife Beth (Reaser), Mavis takes it upon herself and returns to her hometown to claim Buddy as her man.

While Jason Reitman serves as Young Adult‘s director, I have to say that the film almost felt like a 100% Diablo Cody product. There is a sense of maturity and honesty to her screenplay that makes you wonder if Young Adult could serve as her autobiography. Cody’s previous works — including United States of Tara — had the main characters pegged with problems, insecurities, quirkiness and wondering about their existence in life. To a certain extent, Mavis Gary is no different than Cody’s previous characters — her starting and finishing point are almost similar to the Juno MacGuff character played by Ellen Page. But unlike Juno, Mavis Gary is a lot more interesting to watch because of the environment she’s placed in and the people she has to deal with.

At first, Young Adult presents her as a lazy ass bitch who lives her life carelessly and spends most of her time being silly, drinking, playing video games, struggling at work and clinging on to her past. But later on, Jason Reitman directs the film into darker territory as Mavis painfully realizes that everyone has grown up and moved on with their lives. During her visit, she wants to grow up like the rest and leave her past issues. However, her Peter Pan complex prevents her from doing so, leading her into sadness and trying to find truth in life. But she isn’t alone in this: Matt (Oswalt), one of Mavis’ former classmates, hasn’t gotten over the past quite yet.

Theron’s performance as Mavis Gary is raw and outstanding, making Mavis a very relatable character. She flawlessly guides you through the issues Mavis faces, her views about life and even lets you feel sympathy for her despite the fact that Mavis comes across as an unlikeable character during a good chunk of the film. It’s a crime that Theron wasn’t nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars.

While the rest of the cast played their parts alright, Patton Oswalt was great as Matt and provided most of the laughs in the film. Matt is the geeky guy that people like Mavis would ignore back then, yet he was the only one able to understand and cope with her problems. Matt and Mavis are an odd couple, considering their differences and similarities, but the chemistry between Theron and Oswalt is top-notch and drives Young Adult to be a great film that disguises pain in comedy while bringing out real life issues without sugarcoating them.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Rodrigo

YAM Magazine contributor, has a B. Sc. degree in Science/Pharmacy and is a very lazy person.

13 Responses

  1. amy says:

    I actually preferred Oswalt and Theron separated – they were both similar characters in that they didn’t grow up and dwell a lot in the past. However, in Matt’s case, this… non-moving-on business was imposed by the incident, while Mavis’ case was a lot more, er… self-imposed.

    I really did like the revelation at the party, which made the very unlikable Mavis a lot more of a rounded (though effed up) character. Though she was a total bitch, she was very relatable… which makes me think that we’re all little jerks or bitches inside. LOL

    The ending scene did seem a little bit forced though, but I guess it served the purpose for that not-sad-but-really-depressing ending.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @amy, They would have worked separated well. But without Matt, it would be harder to sympathise with Mavis. Someone was needed to slowly ground her into reality. But at the same time, Mavis also helped out Matt to grow, but Mavis ended up growing more.

      The revelation scene was really great and elevated the film into a bigger deal. I was able to relate to Mavis not only with that scene, but also during a good portion of the film. Does that makes me an asshole? Lol.

  2. amy says:

    I didn’t think she grow at all, though! LOL She’s in the same self-depression path but oblivious to it until her next crash with reality. Come to think of it, neither Matt or Mavis grew, I think.

    I think since we both related to Mavis for a good chunk of the film, we classify as… a little bit assholes. I think regular nice people just didn’t like Mavis at all, while many of us are stuck into that bizarre stage of growing up… but not really. xD

    • Rodrigo says:

      @amy, I think the ending leads us to think about whetever she grew up or not after reality hit her hard. As for Matt, he’s most likely stuck with his place.

      The asshole debate… I don’t know if I really wanna talk about it. But since we relate to Mavis, we’re somewhat screwed. Lol.

      • amy says:

        @Rodrigo, but~~~ think about it. Mavis felt bad, and then Matt’s sister went off saying “It’s ok, you were right in hating all these people and this town. we all suck. I understand so much why you were such a bitch and we totally deserved it. PLEASE, TAKE ME WITH YOU?” LOL

        And then Mavis’ eyes opened and said “You know what? You’re RIGHT. FUCK YOU. I’m leaving.” LOL

        • Rodrigo says:

          @amy, That would hjave been better, haha. But “You’re good here, Sandra” was pretty much a “goodbye, bitch” answer from Mavis.

          Also… “Yeah, but most people here seem so happy with so little.” hit on my head hard as it reminded me of something one of my university friends mentioned 5-6 years ago.

  3. Julyssa Diaz says:

    I can’t wait to see this!

  4. Castor says:

    Solid flick with a fine, all-out performance from Theron. The ending is definitely unsettling and I can see why Amy is saying she didn’t grow at all because her emotional arc ends exactly where it began.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @Castor, Glad to hear you enjoyed the film.

      I do understand Amy’s point. But to return back to where it began, Mavis took many steps, for good or worse. The post-film path could go either way, I beileve.

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