Young Adult

A worthy film with this group is the Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody, Charlize Theron collaboration, Young Adult.  Put it on your list for the next few weeks.

Young Adult (Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson) – It has been three years since Oscar winner Charlize Theron appeared in a film, which is hard to believe.  Young Adult features an excellent performance from the Academy Award winner for Monster.  Here, she plays Mavis Gary (who makes up these names?), a ghostwriter of a series of teen novels who is terribly unhappy with her life.  She lives in the past (after all, she was the “it” girl in high school); hasn’t really grown up at all; and wants desperately to hook up again with her high school boyfriend, Buddy Slade (played by Patrick Wilson, a serviceable actor). When she gets an announcement about the birth of Buddy and his wife’s new baby, she decides to take a break from the big city (Minneapolis) and go back to her hometown and try to win Buddy back.


What a depressing experience.  She runs into the nerd who had the locker next to hers but who she never saw, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt in a performance for which he got a Golden Globe nomination).  He has had a tough life, too, even harder than hers.  Buddy is the happy one.  He’s married to a nice girl from high school who still plays drums in an all-girl band.  Frankly, hardly anyone is that excited that Mavis is back.  But she figures that, if she just turns on her good looks, she can seduce Buddy and get him back.  She confides in Matt, who thinks she is delusional but who is more than happy to hang with the gorgeous woman who hadn’t given him the time of day.


Promoted as a comedy, Young Adult is really a serious film about an immature, self-loathing alcoholic who has spent her adult life as a child in fantasyland.  Theron plays the part brilliantly – part ditz, part self-destructive b**ch, part debutante.  She has come a long way since Tina in That Thing You Do.  There is some Oscar buzz around this performance but this is a really competitive year for actresses.  She also was nominated for a Golden Globe.


You should remember that this is really an indie flick, not a big-budget movie. It is the story of someone on her way down who is headed for a crisis.  In that sense, it is a lot like Up In The Air, which is no coincidence.  After all, Young Adult is directed by Jason Reitman (Ivan’s son), the director of Up In The Air.  Plus, it was written by Diablo Cody, the Academy Award winner who penned Juno when she was just 29.  Cody also has written several episodes of United States of Tara, proving that she may be the best female writer writing women’s roles today.  (Born Brooke Busey, she is a former stripper and phone sex operator who graduated from the University of Iowa in media studies before authoring scripts for the likes of Ellen Page, Toni Collette and (now) Charlize Theron).  Reitman, Cody, and Theron make a potent combination. This is a fine “little film.”


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