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
If nothing else, 'Young Adult' is a breath of fresh air. Written by Juno creator Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, YA is like a distant sequel - if Juno had moved to the city, got married and divorced and started drinking. 'Young Adult' is darkly funny, confronting, a bit depressing at times and has a refreshing sense of realism. It's not afraid to show broken characters battling their own demons and the mundane and sometimes bleak suburban existence.
Charlize Theron played Mavis, a relatively successful teen fiction author in Minneapolis who's reached a crossroads. Recently divorced and struggling to write her latest novel, she receives an email from her high school flame Buddy (Patrick Wilson) announcing his new baby. Mavis convinces herself that Buddy still loves her - despite being happily married to Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) and goes back to Minnesota to win him back. Along the way she meets Matt (Patton Oswalt), a short, fat, reclusive man still emotionally and physically scarred by a hate crime in high school, who was all but ignored by the younger Mavis despite being locker-mates. Despite her intentions for Buddy, Mavis and Matt bond.
The unlikely relationship between Mavis and Matt is, for me, is the highlight of the movie: Matt sees through Mavis' charade and isn't afraid to let her know about it, being downright rude at times, he's not the "Mr. Nice Guy" you may expect. The chemistry between Theron and Oswalt is brilliant. While they may be worlds apart socially and physically, their relationship is believable. After "uglying herself up" for 'Monster', Theron again eschews her glamorous image for the sake of a role. While Mavis is undoubtedly beautiful, she's clearly damaged and lonely, clinging onto an imagined ideal of happiness and completely ignoring reality. Her obsession with Buddy is demonstrated on her drive to Minnesota: playing an old mix tape in her car, she repeatedly plays the song that she and Buddy first made love to.
While 'Young Adult' may be a shock to some, that's what makes it so good. In a climate littered with clichéd, paint-by-numbers rom-coms with nauseatingly happy endings, its refreshing to see a movie which tackles the darker side of life.
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