Thirty-seven year old Mavis Gary seems incapable of happiness. She has had one failed marriage with no romance in her immediate horizon. She ghosts writes a young adult series of books, which has just been canceled due to low sales. She is in the process of writing the last book, with which she is having a mental block. She lives vicariously through Kendall Strickland, the teenaged female heroine in her books, as like Kendall she believes her high school years were the best years of her life when she was the prom queen. When she receives news that her high school beau, Buddy Slade, and his wife, Beth Slade, have just had their first child, Mavis takes it as a sign that she and Buddy are meant to be together. As such, she devises a false pretense to travel from her Minneapolis home back her her old hometown of Mercury, Minnesota to reclaim Buddy from Beth. As Mavis slyly or not so slyly does whatever she can to hang out with Buddy, even in Beth's company if need be, she also runs into ... Written by
The word processor file in which Mavis composes her novel throughout the film is titled "pieceofshit.doc". See more »
The highway signs (I-35, I-535 & US Hwy 53) outside the Hampton Inn that Mavis checks into would seem to place Mercury, MN in the Duluth area, but the strip mall next door features a Chuck E. Cheese's, Raymour & Flanigan Furniture, and Liquid Ice. The nearest Chuck E. Cheese's are several hours away in the Minneapolis area. Raymour & Flanigan and Liquid Ice are chains only found in the Northeastern US (PA, NY, New England), and a highway sign seen after the interstate signs at the hotel is a New York State Route 35 sign supports that. See more »
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have been kind of hit or miss for me or at least that's what I like to think. I didn't enjoy Juno nearly as much as everyone else seemed to while Jennifer's Body, while not great, may have been better received on my end than what most give it credit for mostly because I have such a soft spot for horror. On the other hand though, Up in the Air was fairly fantastic all around. With that said, the main thing attracting me to Young Adult was the fact that Patton Oswalt had a rather big supporting role. Despite the fact that Charlize Theron has done so many things since and has won an Oscar, films like The Astronaut's Wife and The Devil's Advocate only come to mind whenever she's featured in anything which isn't flattering at all. So there was kind of this sense of dread going into Young Adult, but was it justified? The short answer is no, but it doesn't completely blow you away either.
There was an Entertainment Weekly article a few weeks ago where Theron said she aimed to not only be a mean-spirited individual, but also easily relatable as well. That's the trickiest part with a character like this. Anyone can be cold or act black hearted, but doing that while also displaying qualities that make you feel sorry for them and/or feel like something you went through in your life is something special. Imagining anyone else in this role is practically impossible, as well. The entire premise seems to be built around Theron. She seems to be playing herself or at least a slightly exaggerated version of how she is in real life. That more than likely contributes to the movie working as well as it does.
One of the other great things about the movie is that it's mostly unexpected. Young adult fiction writer Mavis Gary (Theron) currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota but decides to return to her small hometown of Mercury after receiving an email from her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) welcoming his first child into the world. Mavis somehow thinks that her and Buddy are meant to be together and despite Buddy being happily married and having a daughter that he loves dearly, Mavis thinks they can work past that to make things right between them. The outcome of the events is probably pretty predictable, but the relationships in between unfold in a way that you probably don't see coming. I'm mostly referring to Mavis and Matt Freehauf's (Patton Oswalt) friendship as it goes in a direction that feels far too human for such a superficial individual like Mavis. Oswalt also seems to be playing an exaggerated version of himself as well as he makes full use of his geekiness. The Pixies shirt was also a nice touch. But Young Adult is mostly entertaining due to the way it feels genuine despite revolving around somebody who is as harsh and selfish as Mavis Gray is.
Young Adult is very dark and downright bleak at times, but that's one of its most distinguishing traits. You'll more than likely find something to relate to in Mavis Gray whether it was you who was the popular kid in school, are just as depressed as she is, think you may be an alcoholic, or you're a writer, Mavis isn't really in the right frame of mind and maybe that's the most relatable part of her character. Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt share a kind of twisted chemistry that involves some fairly witty dialogue at times, but is mostly them dragging the other one through the mud with their words, which strangely only illustrates how miserable and similar their two characters are. Young Adult is a very fascinating dark comedy that is laugh out loud funny at times due to its cruelness, but shines thanks to its authenticity.
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