24 September 2012

Movie Review: Young Adult by Jason Reitman

Title: Young Adult
Director(s): Jason Reitman
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Rating: R
Release Date (USA): December 16, 2011

"Everyone gets old. Not everyone grows up." -Tagline

Dynamic duo, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, return with a vengeance with their dramatic comedy, Young Adult. Mavis (Charlize Theron), a former “it” girl and successful YA author, is fresh off a divorce and looking to escape her stagnant city life. She heads back to her small-town home with hopes of winning back an old high school flame (Patrick Wilson). Here’s the catch: he’s now married and father to a newborn. So what’s a successful girl to do? Throw in a home distillery, a disabled former classmate (Patton Oswalt), a manipulative plan and what do you get? A whole lot of soul-searching.

It’s safe to say, I did not expect Young Adult to be what it was. From the previews I was anticipating more of a comedic romp with mild substance. Young Adult, however, is not that type of film.There are touches of comedy, sure, but it’s a darker humour that’s inspired more by the dramatic narrative than anything else. Cody (of Juno fame) is masterful at crafting a touching story and I think her writing resonates with me because she creates such amazingly relatable characters. There is a realness to them and the desperate situations in which they find themselves. These aren’t your average stock characters—each one is beautiful, funny, ugly and tragic in their own way. I liked them, I hated them and empathized with them all and that’s what made this movie so damn memorable.

Let’s start with Mavis. Mavis was that perfect girl in high school, you know the type—the one that all the guys wanted to be with and all the girls wanted to be. Like, gag me with a spoon! Yeah.To the townies she’s seen as this successful hot-shot living the royal life in the big city. But almost immediately we learn that appearances aren’t always what they seem. Mavis has become a neurotic egoist struggling to cope with a crumbling life and dwindling fame. She lacks any sort of moral compass and she quickly crosses the line into shallow bitch when she plots stealing her ex away. It quickly becomes clear that Mavis has some serious personal issues. First, can I just say—Charlize Theron has totally outdone herself and created nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece playing the anti-heroine. Theron is brilliant at bringing both the depth and range needed to play such a fucked up individual. Not many people could pull off this type of role so successfully. The subtle nuances of her performance had me completely riveted and still rooting for Mavis despite how unlikable she really is.

Now enter, Matt, the only seemingly reasonable person that Mavis hooks up with while visiting her hometown. In high school he was bullied and abused by people in the popular crowd, and though still bitter, manages to have a firm hold on who he is and what he wants. He is the only one who’s not blinded by Mavis’ fame and doesn’t hold back when trying to bring her back down to reality. In short, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Matt. He’s a pawn that people push around both physically and emotionally and he bears the scars to prove it. Mavis uses him for her own selfish reasons, yet you admire the sense of inner strength he’s gained because of it. He’s somewhat of a dorky character who carries his own personal demons but is altogether still loveable. Oswalt did a phenomenal job conveying the loneliness and wit needed for such a role. He’s the most likable person in the entire movie and I spent the whole time wishing I could give him a big ol’ bear hug.

So I won’t spoil the ending, but believe me, it left me wondering—do people ever really change? We’re not necessarily given the happiest of conclusions but at least it’s a brutally honest one. Reitman, once again, has done wonders at making supremely complicated people seem so utterly fascinating with appropriately timed comedy and engaging dialogue. He’s given us a film that enables us to look deep within ourselves and question our own intentions as well as the intentions of the characters on screen. Mavis isn't always likable and that's the beauty of the film. Upon face value we see a pretty perfect life but by the end of the movie we know it's what's below the surface that counts—and that right there, folks, makes for an incredibly grown-up notion indeed.

Summary Prognosis 
Young Adult, is at its core, a story about people—one that is wonderfully written and brilliantly delivered. If you’re looking for a movie that generates some serious self-reflection you’ve come to the right place. Much like Reitman and Cody’s former hit, Juno, this movie is definitely a thinker. Highest of accolades to Theron and Oswalt for their stellar performances!

Rating: ★★★★

Watch It: Amazon | Target
Discuss It: IMDB | Young Adult
View the Trailer: 


  1. I really want to see this! I absolutely loved Juno and I'm glad to hear Diablo Cody has written another great script. Very nice review!

    1. Thanks Tammy! It was a wonderful film albeit not a particularly happy one. If you like a darker sort of comedy then you'll definitely enjoy it!

  2. I saw the preview and it does look good. Great review. Charlize Theron tends to steal the limelight everytime, I like her work. Have you seen her in Monster?

  3. She really is fantastic and what makes her so good in this film is the subtle character ticks like her picking at her hair. Brilliant! And yes, I have seen Monster. She totally killed it (quite literally!).

  4. I'm very curious about this film. Sounds good, and your review definitely made me more interested to see it.


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