You know how booze clouds your thinking? Mavis Gary
(Charlize Theron) is an alcoholic and hoo boy, does she ever have some screwed
up ideas. Mavis was hot stuff in high school. Great looking and popular, she
was the envy of the lesser kids. After school, she moved away from tiny
Mercury, MN for the big city life in Minneapolis. At 37, Mavis is still a
knockout, with a glamorous career as a writer of a hit series of young adult
novels. What her admirers back at home don't know is that Mavis is a
self-absorbed arrested adolescent. Her life is in shambles and the young adult
book series - did I mention that Mavis is an uncredited ghost writer for the
books? - is being canceled after she turns in her final, overdue manuscript.
Then Mavis comes up with a plan. She'll go back to Mercury,
reunite with Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), her high school sweetheart, and have
the perfect life she deserves. In fact, Buddy is happily married to Beth (Elizabeth
Reaser) and has a new baby, but never mind that. Mavis knows - she just knows - that Buddy feels unhappy and trapped with his wife and child. But all that will
change when she rescues him.
Young Adult (showtimes) is a
wicked mix of comedy and drama from writer Diablo Cody and director Jason
Young Adult is darker than Juno and more squirm-inducing, in a good
way. It's also far less self-satisfied (thanks for that, Diablo). The film is
bold, daring to present a lead character who is almost totally unsympathetic.
It also presents a thoroughly engaging odd couple, throwing together Mavis with
Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), an embittered former student.
About Matt. Back in high school he was savagely beaten by a
group of jocks who assumed he was gay. Crippled physically and emotionally by
the attack, he now lives quietly with his sister Sandra (Collette Wolfe), who
has idolized Mavis since the ... uh ... good old days.
So what happens between Mavis and Buddy? How does Mavis the
glamor girl and geeky Matt end up hanging out with each other? All you really
need to know is that everything plays out realistically, more or less, which
means you're going to witness a series of terribly embarrassing moments. You'll
laugh, you'll cringe, you'll even care.
The actors playing the citizens of Mercury effectively serve
as reasonable, caring individuals that do not fall into small-town caricature.
But the show belongs to Chalize Theron and Patton Oswalt. She gives a daring
performance, as far from her celebrated turn in Monster as can be, but just as precise. Oswalt, best known as a
stand-up comedian, does a hell of a job as a twisted soul with a black sense of
humor. The success in Young Adult
hinges on the chemistry between this unlikely pair and both actors find the
perfect balance. Young Adult contains
no great truths. It's simply well-written, well-acted and entertaining, so long
as you don't mind taking a walk to the dark side.