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Film Reviews

 

"YOUNG ADULT” by Linda Bergman


When Patrick Wilson’s character, “Buddy” says to CharlizeTheron’s, “Mavis,” in Paramount’s “Young Adult”.

 

“You’re better than this.”

 

My first and last thoughts were:“And so is Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman!  What are they doing?  This is so risky! And why would Paramount release this downer as a holiday film? They must be programming against  the season’s joy and happiness.  It’s the anti-Christ, Anti feel good flick of all time.

 

The title “Young Adult” refers to the genre of angst-ridden–coming-of-age books written for teenagers. And angst doesn’t even touch the revulsion an audience feels when they watch Young Adult book writer Mavis’ mental break- down.

 

I am sure it sounded good on paper.  And Diablo Cody (Academy Award winning writer for Juno) admitted last night that even though she wrote it on spec and never thought she’d sell it, she was compelled to write a film about a 37- year-old -woman who is still stuck mentally in high school.  A woman that has not one redeeming quality, who sleeps with men she doesn’t know and even treats her dog terribly, leaves Minneapolis for her Podunk home town.  She’s set to do one thing: separate her high school sweetheart from his wife and new baby. What would happen, Diablo thought, if the “bad-gal” stayed bad?  Even though she did write an alternative comfort-food ending, she tossed it, in favor of a non-twist that boldly says, “This is my disgusting story and I’m stickin' to it. “ Yikes!

 

Director Jason Reitman  (Up In The Air, Thank You For Smoking, Juno) said it best when he reported Theron’s comment after signing on.  She said, “Let’s jump off the cliff together!”  And jump off they did for a fast 30-day shoot and a $12 million dollar budget – peanuts in today’s blockbuster world.  As a producer, I must admit they got all their money on screen and Theron is amazingly committed as the sick, lying bitch Mavis trying to win back the affections of boring as hell but cute, Buddy (played perfectly by Patrick Wilson. (CBS’ A Gifted Man).

 

What Mavis doesn’t count on -- as her career and reputation diminish -- is meeting up with another hometown refugee from high school, fat, disabled geek,” Matt”.  Matt’s locker was next to Mavis’ and he watched her every day.  She admits all she remembered about him was he the victim of a hate crime back in the day.  Poor Matt, who was suspected of being gay in high school, had his legs and male member broken by the same boys Mavis was blowing at lunch.  Played brilliantly by stand-up comic, Patton Oswalt, Matt, is the center of the film and gives us our only relief.  He is the voice of the audience, saying just what we, in our seats, want to cry out, “Go get help, you sick f@#/,”

 

While there were a few very funny sight gags, and I loved looking at Charlize’s ravaged beauty and her considerable acting chops, this comedy made me distinctly uncomfortable which is exactly what the creative team admitted they went for and the studio backed.  All I can reason is, Paramount wants to do future business with this Dream Team of Cody/Reitmna/ Theron, and by letting them make this horrible thing, they now have a bargaining chip for the future. I am sure there is a method to their madness. Who knows?  Who cares? But I have to admit, I am curious to see who buys tickets to this odd bird. If they make a lot of money, I bet it will be off of all the horny, angry Y.A s. out there1