Charlize Theron is neither young nor an adult in this film that courageously puts forward a character that is patently unlikeable and doesn’t change. It’s the blackest of black comedies – you’ve been warned.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is the writer of a series of young adult novels - no, not vampires but a schoolgirl series called Waverly Prep that is coming to an end. Not that her name is on the cover since the series was begun by another author and she’s ghostwritten the rest. She’s trying to finish up the last book but finds herself more interested in reality TV, whiskey, and consuming enough of both till she passes out.
That changes when she gets an email birth announcement from her old boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). She packs up her pocket pooch and heads back to her hometown, the small burg of Mercury, Minnesota to try and win back Buddy. She thinks this invitation, reading between the lines, is a clarion call that he wants to rekindle their relationship.
She arrives and runs into fellow classmate Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) who was the victim of a hate crime that wasn’t a hate crime but it did result in his leg being damaged. She meets up with Buddy and his wife (Elizabeth Reaser) and puts her plan into action to win him back; a scheme that Matt warns her is not likely to work.
I was torn when Young Adult was over. I had seen a very well made and acted movie, but its main character is so unlikeable, nay crazy delusional, that I wasn’t sure what exactly my opinion was of the film. That was until I watched the Q&A that director Jason Reitman and he iterates that is what he is going for. A character that goes through the usually romantic comedy/coming of age tropes and comes out just as rotten at the end of the film as she was at the first.
This all springs from the mind of scripter Diablo Cody and you wonder about if the main character is a sort’ve stand in for her. Just substitute screenwriting for young adult novel writing. I don’t think that Diablo is as delusional as Mavis (or I hope not).
The voice of reason and sanity is played by Patton Oswalt in a moving turn and there are some fantastic scenes in the last act of the film with him, Mavis’ breakdown, and Matt’s sister’s kitchen table conversation with Mavis. That trio of scenes made Reitman want to make the movie. Just be aware that the movie is a dark one or you may come away hating it and Mavis.
Young Adult is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.85:1). Special features, presented in high definition, include a commentary by Reitman, director of photography Eric Steelberg, and first assistant director Jason A. Blumenfeld, the 18 minute “Misery loves Company” making of, the 6 minute “The Awful Truth: Deconstructing a Scene,” a 46 minute Q&A with Reitman and Janet Maslin at the Jacob Burns Film Center, 7 minutes of deleted scenes, and you also get an Ultraviolent digital copy.
Young Adult is an acquired taste and not for those who do not appreciate a dark comedy that veers toward drama. However, the film is expertly crafted with much kudos going to Cody, Reitman, Oswalt and Theron.
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