I love Jason Reitman movies. I’ve been a fan from his 1st, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, to his last, UP IN THE AIR. Therefore, I was looking forward to YOUNG ADULT, with an actor I like a lot as well, Charlize Theron. However, this was probably Reitman’s worst movie to date!
YOUNG ADULT features the story of a neurotic, emotionally stunted ghostwriter of a semi-popular teen series of Young Adult books. The story follows her realization at how empty her life is, and by deciding on re kindling her flame with her small town high school sweetheart. The kicker: He’s happily married with a newborn. Yea, she’s not too smart.
Charlize Theron gives a pretty unique performance as a 37-year-old woman, who still acts like a teenager, and shows the emotional capacity of the characters she writes. Which, is probably the best thing about this movie.
After returning to the small town that she hates, Theron’s Mavis reconnects with her high school sweetheart. The black humor comes into play as she accidentally meets Patton Oswalt’s Matt, another acquaintance from High School, who she develops a quick friendship with, simply because he’s the only one she knows in her hated hometown. Matt’s straight faced reactions to Mavis’ plan of ‘hooking’ up with her married father of an ex, is brilliant. It’s even funnier when his constant harping on about the ridiculous-ness of her plan, has no effect whatsoever on her.
Now, I have to say how freakin’ awesome it is that one of the famous geeks actually gets a leading role in a movie, NOT about Sci-Fi or a parody of Sci-Fi. And yes, after Theron, Oswalt is the next ‘lead’. Patton Oswalt basically plays himself as a wise cracking, self-deprecating fatty, who provides the voice of reason to Mavis’s incomprehensibly retarded plan.
The movie paces itself pretty well, kind of slow in parts. The humor, typical of Reitman stuff, is present, but doesn’t have much effect this time around. Apparently, Mavis was the typical high school bitch, who left town first chance she got. Upon her return, she makes no attempt to hide her contempt for the town and former school-mates, as she tries to woo her married ex, with typical high school techniques; one of which was by randomly reminding him of their sexual history, during casual conversations in public. Awkward? Yes, it was… painfully so, yet side splittingly hilarious at the same time.
Unlike other people who grow and mature after High School, Mavis has stayed the same, and is oblivious to how other’s feel and has no… let’s say common sense of emotions or how to behave in society. Charlize Theron’s performance is probably the best thing about YOUNG ADULT, as the story kind of dies somewhere along the line.
Initially, YOUNG ADULT seems like the clichéd story about a character that’s a dick, realizing the error of their ways, and turning into a human being. I wish that this initial theory was how the film panned out, because the reality was far less satisfying. The shock value of Mavis’ reprehensible actions were hilarious at first, but when there was no ultimate resolution to her character or her situation, it left me feeling robbed.
YOUNG ADULT is a great look at how people evolve over time, through one of the best basis of measurements: high school. However, at the end, YOUNG ADULT really did nothing with its story, with no closure to the main character, no solid supporting character to ground her despite Oswalt’s brilliant performance, and ultimately no ending that went anywhere.