Friday, December 23, 2011

Young Adult Seethes with an Edge of Piss and Vinegar thanks to Charlize Theron

Young Adult (3 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air)
Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer's Body)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson and Patton Oswalt

In 2007 small film named Juno was released during the month of December from a writer/director pair that was not as well known.  Flash forward five years in the future where Jason Reitman is a hot director and is fresh off being a double Oscar nominee for writing/directing Up In Air.  Diablo Cody won an Oscar for her Juno script and she helped develop a television show on Showtime named the United States of Tara.  This year this team has collaborated on a film that solidifies their ability to create.  Together these two have created one very dark comedy.

Young Adult centers on Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) who is in her words an author, not a writer of "young adult" novels in the big city, Minneapolis.  Mavis is from a smaller city, Mercury which is also in Minnesota.  While checking her e-mail she receives an e-mail from a former flame Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) about the birth of his baby and she decides to return home to try and steal him back.  When she gets back home Mavis heads to the local shit hole bar in hopes to get Buddy to come meet her for a drink.  Buddy can't meet Mavis because he is taking care of his child, but Mavis runs into a loser from from her high school days Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt). 

While Reitman's direction is solid enough, this is his weakest piece of work I have seen to date.  Diablo Cody's screenplay while a bit stronger.  While watching this film this is so obviously the Cody's work.  This film just sounds like her.  Mavis even loves Maker's Mark the same drink she writes as a joke in Juno.  There was some brilliant dark comedic moments in this film like when Mavis's cousing jokingly refers to Mavis and Matt as Will and Grace.  The screenplay also does a strong job of highlighting a woman who will never be more than a young adult.

The best part of this film is the convincing job Charlize Theron does portraying this broken alcoholic woman who never grew up.  Mavis writes young adult books, she obsesses about her old high school boyfriend, and while living in the "big city" she still does not do the things there she mocks people in Mercury for.  Theron's beauty is apparent but she is one talented actress.  Theron has great chemistry with Oswalt.  They create one of the oddest and darkest duos of the year.  Oswalt gives a very strong performance as well.

While this film has it flaws, the road to the third act becomes a bit jumbled and more awkward than it needs to be.  This film bring dark humor to a different level.  This film proves that not only Theron a true bombshell, but that she can carry a variety of different material.

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