¨Sometimes in order to heal... a few people have to get hurt.¨
That is exactly the kind of philosophy the star of Young Adult has in this new Jason Reitman film. She is exactly what the title suggests, an adult trapped in the mind of a young teenager. She continues living her life as if she were still the college queen and never matures beyond her age. Charlize Theron plays this highly unlikeable character and she does it really well. Her performance is brilliant, although in a way a little too much so, because she is so unlikeable that she makes the movie feel a bit unlikeable as well. I was really disappointed with Young Adult because I had enjoyed Reitman and Diablo Cody`s previous work together in Juno. Juno was my favorite film in 2007, and I had high hopes for this film considering Reitman had proven himself with Up in the Air as well. Cody is a sharp script writer, but she hasn`t toped her work in Juno or even come close to it. Young Adult has some great moments of sappy dialogue, but the characters are just so unlikeable that I really cared less for what happened to them. Reitman has done what I thought would be impossible: make a film that I wouldn’t like. Juno and Up in the Air where such great films, with great characters, and incredibly funny moments that I just wished Young Adult would have left me with at least a similar sensation. The pacing of the film is also pretty bad and they managed to make a 90 minute movie feel very long. On the other hand the soundtrack was pretty entertaining, and Reitman is proving to be some sort of Cameron Crowe when it comes to mixing music in movies.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a 37 year old fiction writer living in Minneapolis. She specializes in teen romantic stories, and she actually lives like one since she continues to dwell on the past and remember her days as the queen of her college. She seems to have it all, a good job, living in a big city, but she is a depressed alcoholic and has recently come out of a divorce. She fantasizes with conquering her old boyfriend from college, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), the jock who in her opinion must be sad because he continues to live in the small town they grew up in and is a father. She decides to return to the town and ¨save¨ him from the depressing life he must have with his wife and newborn baby. She is convinced that the two belong with each other and will rescue him from that small ugly town. When she arrives, the first thing she does is hit a bar where she is recognized by Matt (Patton Oswalt), who was the typical fat kid everyone bullied. At first she had no idea who he was, until he tells her the story of how the kids broke his leg and left him for dead once. She then remembers him as ¨the hate crime¨ kid and recalls they beat him up for being gay, which ended up not being true. Mavis tells Matt about her plan of conquering her old fling Buddy, and he warns her not to do it because he is happily married with Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) and they seem to be doing well, but Mavis is sure he must be suffering with his role as husband and father.
The film basically follows the star of the film, Theron, and how she treats everybody. She is really a very hateful character, but she plays it extremely well. You kind of feel sorry for her, but you never get to sympathize with her. I think that is the biggest failure the movie had, because in Juno and in Up in the Air you have really great characters you can sympathize with. This isn’t a feel good movie, but it does have some funny moments and I can see how some may find this film enjoyable. Patton Oswalt gives a great performance as well and his relationship with Theron was probably the best thing about the film. The scenes between Theron and Wilson weren’t really that good, and felt awkward at times; it succeeds much more when it focuses on Patton and Theron as they drink and talk to each other. The film is pretty original in that it never tries to redeem its main character, she is simply the way she is and period. Nobody is going to change her. From the very beginning we know where this movie is heading and at the end you kind of feel like the film were missing something (perhaps an interesting and likeable character for a change). Oswalt is good, but his character isn`t really likeable, although he does make us feel sorry for him. He is perhaps the best thing about Young Adult. This is a very odd and different kind of comedy. It didn’t really work for me.