ARIZONA REPORTER




Harvey Critic - 11/12

REVIEW: YOUNG ADULT


The usual reason that people give for attending reunions of their high school and college classes is to get together with the folks they knew in better, freer times, see how they look, compare notes on who is successful and who are the flops. There may be subconscious desires to run into their old flames not just to reminisce about old times but actually to hook up. Why not? You can't do it if you don't try. But usually people who are in the mood for some flirtations do not act out their immature wishes with almost the ferocity of a fatal attraction. Jason Reitman's "Young Adult" is about such a woman, a divorcee who recalls her days making out and sneaking alcoholic beverages behind the sporting stands with a man who is now married. Diablo Cody, who wrote the script as she did for "Juno" takes a special interest in such themes, matters involving the inner lives and torments of women whether teens or, in this case, mid-thirties. As the tagline states, everybody gets old, not everybody grows up. This woman is so lost in nostalgia that she interprets her old flame's marriage as crumbling and assumes that his life with a new baby is boring. She is there to invigorate her own ego and save him from ennui. The trouble is that as anyone can see, he is happily married, cheerfully taking lots of time out to mix baby formula, and pursuing an active interest in such conventions as baby naming wherein he and his wife invite the community over for the obligatory kutchi-coos.


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YOUNG ADULT
Paramount Pictures

Reviewed for Arizona Reporter by Harvey Karten

Grade: C
Director: Jason Reitman
Screenwriter: Diablo Cody
Cast: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser
Screened: AMC Lincoln Square, NYC, 12/5/11
Opens: December 9, 2011

I suppose this could be a template for a romantic comedy, though given the ways that the story plays out, neither romance nor comedy is ascendant-nor would it be even if there were enough chemistry between either of the two principal couples on exhibit. As Mavis Gary, a ghost writer of young adult fiction, Charlize Theron dominates proceedings as a beautiful woman (duh) whose series of books has begun a southward move just as her personal life runs toward empty. She believes she can fill all the gaps by re-establishing herself with handsome Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) despite his being married, with a new kid, and a resident of what people in Minneapolis would consider a hick town, Mercury. Traveling in a beat-up car to Mercury with the excuse that she has a real-estate deal cooking, she begins some serious drinking in a bar where she runs into former classmate and loser Matt Freehauf, who depends on crutches courtesy of a severe beating he received from jocks who considered him to be gay. In the movie's most unbelievable shtick, she reveals all to Matt, indicating that she intends to break up Buddy's marriage to Beth (Elizabeth Reaser). The situation gets thoroughly out of hand when he loudly expresses her borderline-psychotic wishes to the old flame, while even Mavis's mother, Hedda Gary (Jill Eikenberry), is unable to put a damper on proceedings before the whole town is embarrassed.

To the credit of the makeup artists, Charlize Theron morphs from a slutty-looking drunk in some scenes to a highly sophisticated party woman in others. Though Patton Oswalt tries his best to keep proceedings credible and on track, "Young Adult," a slight story at best, cannot summon up even a modicum of comedy or romance.

Rated R. 93 minutes. © 2011 by Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online.

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