Proof Review: Young Adult (2011)

Release Date
December 16, 2011
Director
Jason Reitman
Screenplay
Diablo Cody
Distributed By
Paramount Pictures
Budget
$12 million
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated R for language and some sexual content
94 minutes

Young Adult

Young Adult and all its unrelenting qualities is not Jason Reitman’s nor Diablo Cody’s best work, yet it entertains and showcases its talent justly, and ends up a sub-standard comedy.

Diablo Cody returns to small-town Minnesota (as she does with most of her writing) in this pseudo-comedy, where main character, Mavis (Charlize Theron) has returned home from the big city of Minneapolis to pursue her high school flame, Buddy (Patrick Wilson). The problem; Buddy is happily married with a newborn baby boy. Despite the warnings of new-found drinking buddy, Matt (Patton Oswalt), Mavis finds any way possible to get alone time with Buddy in hopes of replanting the seed of love, no matter the consequences. This can only be described as watching a train wreck happen in slow motion, which climaxes with the baby shower scene where the train finally derails.

Charlize Theron transforms herself into the role of Mavis Gary, abandoning all redeeming qualities about herself and becoming this jaded, teenage-shell of an adult. Her performance is there but the character is so unlikable it is hard to invest in her emotions or care about any sort of outcome. You want her to see the error of her ways and come out with some deeper understanding, but she never quite gets there, leaving a bitter taste in the end. Many compare the film to Greenberg where Ben Stiller portrays a very unlikable character. However, Greenberg came off as having some sort of social disorder, not understanding social normalities. Mavis understands these norms perfectly, she just chooses to avoid them.

Patton Oswalt hits a peak in his career, displaying a deeper emotional side to his usual comedic nature. Much like his role in the independent film “Big Fan”, Oswalt finds perfection in the outcast, delving to deeper levels yet remaining completely comical when needed to be. Was crippling him the best convention for the film? His character would have worked just fine without the handicap, which I found completely distracting from the rest of the themes of the film.

The convention that was needed and worked well was Mavis and her alcoholism. Un-admittedly reaching her peak in high school, Mavis even opens up to her parents, saying “I think I’m an alcoholic”. They brush this statement off, but the audience has seen her consume alcohol in just about every scene of the film. Without this element, Mavis would be almost unfathomably devoid of emotion. Adding that crux to her personality gives at least some reason to her madness.

There is something in the repetitive nature of the film that leaves Young Adult lacking. Had there been more to the storyline than Mavis continuously trying to win over Buddy, the film could have been more enjoyable. There were no twists, no new developments, and no redemption. None of the characters really ever learn anything, nothing new is produced out of any of their situations, and everyone just seems to return to their every day lives following the conclusion of the film.

The humor is still there (mostly given away by advertisements), but Young Adult fails to live up the comedic gold I had pictured it to be. Though it does hold on to some out-of-the-box originality supplied by Diablo Cody and her eccentric idioms, I had ultimately expected more from the duo of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, (their last venture of “Juno” remaining an all-time favorite) who deliver a “good enough” film but nothing compared to their past works.

 

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