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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Young Adult Review

Young Adult Review
2011, 94 minutes
Rated R for language and some sexual content 

Young Adult is the new film from director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno) and writer Diablo Cody (Junothat stars Oscar-winner Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, and Patrick Wilson. Theron plays Mavis Gary, the type of beautiful, but rude girl that you dreamed of but hated in high school.  Now she is a divorced, alcoholic, 37-year-old young adult book writer who cannot get over her high school years and returns to get home town to win back her high school sweetheart. To say that this movie is vicious is an understatement. It is relentless, sharp, nasty, rude, and ridiculously funny. The situations Mavis gets herself into in the movie were at times so uncomfortable that people in the theatre were gasping. I could barely watch but couldn't rip my eyes away. 

Though Young Adult sounds like just another movie with an unlikable character, it is not largely due to the fact that most can probably relate to it in some way or another (everyone knows a "Mavis") and that it carries a powerful message with it: you won't stay popular forever, so get over yourself and grow up because life will catch up faster than you think.  

Charlize Theron is flat-out wicked in this movie as she never feels any less than completely believable.  She exudes the nastiness that only a select few could show.  Her comic timing is also perfect.  I was laughing especially hard when, in one scene, Mavis is at a friend's house and randomly picks up a glue bottle and sniffs it.  Little moments such as this really add to Theron's performance and enrich it. In the end, I actually felt bad for Mavis, even though she was the meanest and most narcissistic lead character of the year.

Patton Oswalt is also fantastic as Matt, the guy in high school that used to be geeky...and still is.  In this movie, he befriends Mavis at the bar.  He is grounded in reality and is a very gentle, likable person and he perfectly counterbalances Mavis.  Oswalt's natural likablity and charm playing Matt should hopefully be enough to earn him an Oscar nomination. 

The attention to detail is another great aspect of Young Adult.  This is largely due to Reitman's solid direction and Cody's genius script.  For example, in one scene, the camera focuses on the dumpy-looking clothes Mavis has in her closet.  Seeing these coupled with the mess in her apartment, the viewer learns a lot about the character of Mavis.  Little pop-culture references such as, when Mavis is talking to someone about what has changed in her home town, "I heard a Chipotle opened there" make the movie amusing.  Also, Reitman's depiction of small Midwest towns is dead-on.  Everything from the plain clothing to the little family-run bars where everyone knows each other is included in his films and adds to the real feel of his movies.

Overall, Young Adult is a must-see due to Oscar-calibur performances, script, and direction.  This will not be a crowd-pleaser because of the dark and nasty nature of it, but for those that want to see this, go!  

-Joshua Handler

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