I’m visiting a friend and his teenage son comes home, and it’s clear the boy has had a rough day. Apparently the cool kids at school were giving him a hard time, again, because the kid is kind of a nerdy geek. There are times I even want to punch him in the face for no good reason. We sum up what’s plaguing this kid in three words… World of Warcraft. Just playing WOW dudes, just playing. I advise this young man that all he has to do is make it out of High School because those people giving him a hard time in high school are experiencing the nadir of their lives right now. This is as good as it’s gonna get for them. This leads us to the latest collab between director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody ‘Young Adult’ in which we meet a character named Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) whose best days, by far, were those salad years of high school and now her main purpose on the planet, as far as I can see, it make everybody else just as miserable a she is. I was pretty excited to see this movie, I mean ‘Juno’… right? I had heard this movie was even better, brilliant with a touch of genius personified. What’s that chant they do at the sporting events? It’s slipping my mind right now, but it starts with the word ‘over…’
Mavis lives in the big city of Minneapolis where she ghost writes for a series Judy Blume type young adult novels, sleeps around, spends her nights awash in liquor and her days jumpstarting with Diet Coke. You might want to get used to the overabundant use of product placements in this movie. One day Mavis gets an email that her old boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson) has just had a brand new baby girl with his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser). So armed with that news and at the sweet age of thirty seven and her life going absolutely nowhere, Mavis has come to the conclusion that her life would be so much better if she and Buddy could pick up where they left off a couple of decades ago. Sure he has a wife and baby, but she’s Mavis and she lives in the Big City which makes all the difference in the world.
So Mavis packs up the mini-Cooper, her little pooch and her hooch and heads back home to Podunk MN. First things first, time to get liquored up. She heads down to the local pub where she meets poor Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), a former classmate she
doesn’t remember despite the fact they had adjacent lockers for four years. Matt is still suffering from the effects of a vicious gay bashing twenty years earlier, even though he’s not gay, and he will do his best to serve as Mavis’ conscious throughout this movie.
So Mavis gets to the business of setting her wicked plan in motion. I mean Buddy has a crap job that he couldn’t possibly enjoy, he has a wife he can’t possibly love and baby that cries all the damn time, plus Mavis looks just like Charlize Theron so you know she’s pretty. Shouldn’t be a problem.
Well, there’s a problem. Apparently Buddy’s life isn’t as crappy as Mavis thinks it is, though we can predict with almost 100% certainty that this isn’t going to stop this lunatic from moving mindlessly forward leaving destruction in her wake. Mavis Gary… I tell you.
‘Young Adult’ is similar in a way to the movie from a couple of years ago in ‘Observe and Report’ in the sense that it’s a comedy that is based around a character that is clearly mentally ill. Only this, in my worthless opinion, wasn’t as funny as ‘Observe and Report’. To be honest with you I don’t know what ‘Young Adult’ is actually supposed to be. I know it’s listed as a comedy but I rarely laughed during this movie and I’m notoriously easy to make laugh. Of course just because I wasn’t falling off of my uncomfortable Cineplex seat holding my gut doesn’t mean that you won’t find it funny, I’m just telling you I thought it wasn’t all that funny. It’s not really a drama either all things considered, and it’s not a thriller even though it does have some horror elements up in there. What does seem to be taking place is that the filmmakers are asking us to sit back and observe a casual and increasingly uncomfortable slice of life of one of the most unpleasant characters in cinematic history.
And if there is something brilliant or genius-like in ‘Young Adult’, it would be Charlize Theron and her portrayal of Mavis Gary. Mavis… is awful. There is nothing remotely socially redeeming about Mavis who is profane, a lush, rude, boorish, obnoxious, evil and any other sour adjective you can think to describe someone like this. And those are her good points. But, and this is a testament to Ms. Theron’s acting ability, she is never cartoonish. Theron plays Mavis as a real, authentic personality, so real that you can almost smell the liquor on her breath, and she plays the character this way with brutal consistency which makes her all the more unlikable. We don’t really get to know why Mavis is the way that she is, considering we did get to meet some of her external influences and they didn’t seem to be all that bad, so I guess we just have to go with the theory that some people are just born wrong.
I guess what I’m saying is I didn’t see the point of ‘Young Adult’. Now if I was laughing throughout the movie then the point would be irrelevant because the object would’ve been to make me laugh while watching this sick woman make a fool out of herself, but for some reason I didn’t find this scenario all that funny. Or maybe the point is that the cool kids from high school are destined for depression, drunkenness and endless sadness. Just so you know, that’s not all that funny either.