Shortly after her divorce, Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a writer of teen literature, returns to her small hometown in Minneapolis to revisit her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). When returning home and reclaiming Buddy proves more difficult than she thought, Mavis forms an unusual bond with a former classmate Matt (Patton Oswalt) who has demons and challenges of his own.
Review by Louise Keller:
With the unique slant of view from the quirkily named screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno), this sharply observed film offers a great platform for Charlize Theron to explore the innards of her life: aspirations and truths as a fiction writer for young adults. With the smart instinctive talents of Jason Reitman as director, the film has a compelling quality - like a train wreck waiting to happen. We are the fly-on-the-wall as we watch Mavis Gray (Theron), the psychotic prom queen from the small town of Mercury, return to her home territory, grappling with her insecurities as she works out what is real and what is not. It's a fascinating journey spinning harsh home truths through a rosy mist of denial. Often funny in a bleak way with laugh out loud moments, Young Adults is a brilliant dark comedy that churns up the sediment in the underbelly of humanity.
Mavis is living in Minneapolis in a zombie-like existence, obviously suffering from writer's block as she starts to write what we learn is the final book in a series for adolescents. Dolce, her ever-patient fluffy toy dog is tolerated as TV dinners are eaten and the television drones on as Mavis sleeps. An email with a photo of a new baby acts as a trigger, as Mavis obsessively remembers her relationship with the baby's father Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), years ago in Mercury. That's the starting point for the story as Mavis packs Dolce into a pink bag and heads to Mercury, intent on reclaiming her former boyfriend and prising him from his happily married life.
The first person that Mavis runs into, as she downs the first of many drinks, is Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), an overweight cripple who was bashed up years ago as a consequence of being gay (or believed to be). Now he makes moonshine liquor and paints miniature figurines. Hardly the companion you would imagine for the extremely beautiful Theron. But they have more in common than you might imagine; they become complicit when Mavis confides her secret motives.
Mavis dresses as the seductress, the vamp and the serene beauty as she meets up with Buddy, who invites her home with wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) and to meet the baby. The insensitivity with which Mavis handles all the situations is a mix of hilarious and tragic and the climactic moment when everything goes belly up is played for maximum effect.
Theron is wonderful throughout and the best scenes are the ones that she shares with Oswalt, who makes a fist of his role. Laugh a lot and squirm even more: Young Adult is irresistible entertainment for those who enjoy life at its unfiltered best.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The first service I can do for you, dear reader, is to advise you to ignore this film's marketing message as displayed on the poster, showing a dumb blonde who appears to have difficulty maturing. Ha ha, what fun you could have with this .... Your expectations will bump into some fairly dark material, and while there is undoubted humour (quite a lot) it isn't what you are led to expect. Charlize Theron's character is not just a dumb blonde in a fluffy plot; she plays Mavis who is damaged and needy, and this combo makes her unstable. And Theron does it brilliantly.
So does Patton Oswalt, the film's second lead, playing Matt, an equally damaged character whose physical battering in high school at the hands of youths who nearly killed him thinking him gay has left him scarred in many ways. Oswalt is sensational in the role, a perfect example of casting gone right.
Patrick Wilson has the least rewarding role as Buddy the ex boyfriend, now married, stuck in smalltown, living a vanilla life, as are all those in the community. There are some powerful scenes constructed out of this premise, and there is a gale force scene in which Mavis confronts the guests as the baby naming ceremony at Buddy's home. But there are others, too.
Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking showed his ability to carve icy observations about human nature out of the slightest moments in a scene, and here he shows he can do it again ... and again. With collaborator Diablo Cody (they made Juno together), Reitman makes an endlessly edgy film in which we are kept slightly off balance - but never fall.
The underlying current of melancholy sustains a sardonic story in which we get to see inside all the characters with extraordinary clarity. This is what makes Young Adult special - and so satisfying, as our emotions are churned like in a tidal surge, back and forth.
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YOUNG ADULT (MA15+)
CAST: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Reaser, J. K. Simmons, Emily Meade, Collette Wolfe
PRODUCER: Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, Charlize Theron, Mason Novick, Russell Smith,
DIRECTOR: Jason Reitman
SCRIPT: Diablo Cody
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Steelberg
EDITOR: Dana E. Glauberman
MUSIC: Rolfe Kent
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kevin Thompson
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 19, 2012