Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Young Adult

Embracing the Past

Rated: R Language and some sexual content
Release Date: December 9, 2011
Runtime: 1 hr 34 min

Director: Jason Reitman
Writers: Diabo Cody
Cast: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser

SYNOPSIS: Small town popular girl escapes to the big city of Minneapolis and becomes a ghost writer for a series of young adult books. But after her divorce and after receiving a birth announcement from her now married ex-boyfriend, she returns home in an attempt to rekindle a romantic relationship with him.

REVIEW: Jason Reitman, director of Aaron Eckhart's Thank You for Smoking and George Clooney's Up in the Air, reteams with writer Diablo Cody with her new script Young Adult. Cody returns to the big screen after her 2009 effort, Jennifer's Body, and small screen writing for cable. After winning the 2008 Oscar for Best Writing - Original Screenplay for Juno, expectations for Charlize Theron's Young Adult run high.

Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron, Monster) seems to be living the big city life in Minneapolis after marrying and escaping away from the small town where she grew up. But a divorce and the news of her ghost writing on a series of young adult books coming to a close after her next submission set her on course to depression. While she struggles to find the words to write down for the book, she receives a birth announcement from her now married ex-boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen). The email sets her on a quest to return to her home town to rekindle her romantic relationship with Buddy, in spite of his current martial status. Along the way, she confided in crippled Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) about her plans for Buddy, who points out the lunacy of her intentions.

Reitman's films always have an element of realism and truth in them, and Young Adult is no different. Coupled with the timely words from Diablo Cody's script, Young Adult
is a story of perceptions and hard realities. Charlize Theron's brings to Mavis Gary a character weighed down by an oppressive anchor of success deemed as failure. Every goal achieved is a pale gauzy veil that tries to cover over the loses she so desperately wants to regain. Oswalt's Matt Freehauf envies the life Mavis doesn't seem to relish, forced to hide behind crutches and the small town due to a "hate crime" that occurred while he was in high school. Matt does, however, tell Mavis at every turn how insane she is for her depression and desperate plans, even while they talk over a tumbler worth of garage stilled bourbon. Mavis regales Matt with stories of how unhappy Buddy is with his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser, Twilight Saga) even though Matt overheard most of the conversations firsthand and recollected the discussions differently.

Diablo Cody's dialogue is crisp and clever, both for the characters and for the characters in Mavis' last young adult book. With references like "textual chemistry", Cody surely has her fingers on the pulse of the current generation. Her scripts also includes dialogue gems like Mavis' retort, 'I'm cool with it. I got baggage, too,' when Matt reminds her that Buddy is a married man with a newborn child.

With a narrowing or a squint of the eyes, Theron conveys as much without a word as she says. When she sees Buddy and Beth's new baby for the first time, her thin smiles becomes overwhelming disdain as soon as the mother turns away. Her performance is painful and raw, even as Mavis spends hours painting on a foundation of beauty and bliss to impress.

Not a feel good movie by any stretch Young Adult is, nevertheless, a true representation of what happens to all of us when we reflect on our lives and its successes and failures. What we consider defeats, other see as triumphs. The depressions of loses that keep Mavis from realizing and reveling in her successes is something that everyone can relate to. Who hasn't gone to their high school reunions to bask in the glory days and former romances, desperate to impress with something more than what we have actually accomplished?

WORTH: Matinee or Rental 

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