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Since appearing seemingly from nowhere to claim an Oscar with her screenplay for "Juno", Diablo Cody has been considered by some to be the female Orson Wells, who like Cody exploded onto the movie scene, only to never match the same heights as his early years, something which seems to be happening to Cody from the release of "Juno" follow up "Jennifer's Body" her first attempt at a horror script and a film which suffered largely due to it's questionable casting choices, aswell as the fact that it seemingly couldn't decide if it was going to be another smart ass comedy like her debut or an actual horror film, especially when it was largely more titillating than terrifying. Still It seemed like Cody had hit her peak with her debut, with only a gradual downward spiral ahead of her aswell as possibly hocking sherry if she is to truly follow the career trajectory of Orson Wells.
Now reuniting with director Jason Reitman, Team Juno return to bring another dark humoured look at the suburbs, as we are introduced to Mavis Gary (Charlie Theron) a former high school "It Girl", now a divorced ghost writer for the "Waverly Prep" series of young adult books of which she is now currently struggling to finish the last book of the series. However upon receiving an e-mail containing pictures of her now married high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson), she see's it as a sign that they should be together once more and returns to her hometown intent on winning him back.
Jason Reitman has to certainly be the least recognised director currently working today, especially when you consider that his last three films "Thank You For Smoking", "Juno" and "Up In The Air" have all been so far fantastic and currently it would seem that he is the only director who can truly capture the spirit of Cody's writing, with this latest film feeling like a return to familiar territory for the duo to the point were this could very much be set in the same world if not the same town as "Juno" and I frequently half expected to see either Juno or Paulie Bleeker show up in the background as a result of this.
Mavis thankfully though is not another smart assed character, as Cody has toned down the quotable nature of her dialogue to instead craft a truly hideous woman driven by her own personal let alone morally questionable quest to reunite with her ex boyfriend. Viewing her high school days with rose tinted nostalgia, she still hangs onto Buddy's Letterman jacket, while obsessively playing the same song from an old mixtap he gave her. The key thing about here through is that Mavis only cares about Mavis, something especially clear in the fact that she perceives the fact that Buddy is now married, as nothing but a minor inconvenience and a prison in which he is secretly asking to rescued from, by mailing her pictures of his new born daughter. Still this desire to hook up with Buddy again, it would seem less based on a "Fatal Attraction" esc obsession and ultimately more about trying to reconnect with her high school glory days, especially with her life currently having ground to a disappointing halt and a daily spiral of drinking and writers block.
However upon returning to her hometown she is more than a little disappointed, to find that her legacy was perhaps not as memorable as she had first thought, while also finding an unwitting accomplice in one of her former classmates "Hate Crime" Matt (Patton Oswalt), whom was left walking with a crutch following a high school beating by jocks who had wrongly accused him of being gay. Matt however it would seem is the one person not afraid of telling Mavis the truth, even if she still ignores him and does what she wants' anyway, together they slowly form an unusual bond.
Charlie Theron is on great form here as Mavis, something which only makes for a suitable reminder as to how she won her Oscar for "Monster", especially when this is the first film since that win to show that Theron is more than a pretty face and capable of actually pulling off a great performance with the right director, which she would seemingly have with Reitman, for as Mavis she is highly believable, a former prom queen for whom the harsh realities of real life have finally caught up, especially when she is embodiment of so many similar minded girls that I went to school with, many of which seemingly under the same delusions as Mavis and while Mavis might not perhaps be at the same delusional levels as seen in "Fatal Attraction", she still does come pretty close, as she obsessively phones Buddy to arrange catch up's, while working under the false pretence of being in town for a property developer conference. Despite this Buddy is shown to be frequently naïve to Mavis's true intentions, even when she is flirtly knocking back shots with him at a gig being held by the band for whom Buddy's wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) drums for.
The biggest revelation here though is the performance by Oswalt, which not only taps into his natural comedy talent, but also helps him showcase a much more serious side to his acting ability, as a man who refuses to quit, even when he was left with a more permanent reminder of high school than most bullying targets, yet whom is also yet to escape his small town roots in what is a refreshing change from the usual bulled kid come good plotline we've come to expect, for he was a loser in school and even now as a grown up little seems to have changed. Still after seemingly a lifetime playing the comedic punch line, it's great to see Oswalt finally getting to tackle a more challenging role, let alone having a great on screen chemistry with Theron as especially highlighted in their scenes together, which are by far the strongest.
While it might not be the most developed of plot lines, it is still much a more familiar territory for Cody as a writer, even if she has now flipped the perspective to an older character who can't let go of her teenage years, especially with Cody seemingly being so keen to write from a prospective of youth, rather than impending middle age. What is also interesting is the vain of dark humour which she has worked into the screenplay, a departure from the pop culture and one liner driven humour of both "Juno" and "Jennifer's Body". However such darkly tinged humour is always a tricky act to pull off and while perhaps not as dark as the likes of Todd "Welcome to the Dollhouse" Solondz, it's still a fine line that the film walks, with Mavis and her actions frequently providing selfish let alone morally questionable, it certainly makes her a hard character to like and no doubt the reason that this film has split audience down the middle, while some random guy at the screening I was at actually threw his arms up halfway through and walk out, while muttering "fuck this shit" to himself, only furthered to highlight this point, with Cody's seeming refusal to provide any form of comeuppance outside of turning the events of the film into some kind of weird life lesson, no doubt only adding further fuel to the fire.
"Young Adult" might not be the return Oscar winning form for Cody that her fan base might have hoped for, but it is certainly a huge step up from "Jennifer's body", while also continuing a great run of films for Reitman, which doesn't seem to be stopping just yet, even if this isn't one of his strongest to date, it still bare all the character driven hallmarks which we have come to expect from his work, which might further explain the sudden leap in quality of storytelling on offer here, but still it is far from the least enjoyable cinema going experience this year, even if half the audience leaving was a little distracting, it is still a quirky and morally ambiguous film, which thankfully refuses to give into traditional film conventions and only comes off the better for it.
Charlize Theron plays the lead role in this film called Mavis Gary she is a successful writer but has a deadline that she seems to be struggling with. When she receives an email from her old high school boyfriend Buddy with a picture of his new baby she packs her bags and heads off to her old home town with just one thing in mind. Winning back her ex boyfriend. She ends up also meeting with an old school nerd Matt that she ends up spending a lot of time with while she is in town.
What lengths will she go to just to get Buddy back to relive her teenage years and just who will she end up with there is just so many possibilities with this film so I wont go ahead and spoil it for you.
Mavis in this reminds me of a bunny boiler she knows what she wants and tries to get her man despite what consequences it may have. I found this film in a way to be a little pointless it was worth watching as you never knew what was going to happen next but this is just something that would never really happen.
The acting in the film was really good from all of the acting cast and especially Charlize who played a brilliant part in her role as the divorced bunny boiler. You really could not say anything bad about any of the acting roles in this.
I did enjoy watching this film and it is worth at least one watch but it is not a film I would ever watch again it could have maybe done with a better storyline but as I said the parts were each played to perfection. But with the film industry been so competitive this would never be in my top 10 films.
About the film
Young Adult is a comedy/ drama film that was released at the cinema on 3rd February 2012. The film was released on DVD on 25th June. Young Adult is rated 15 and has a run time of 93 minutes.
Although on a deadline to finish the last book in a series of which she is the ghost writer for,
Mavis Gary has just got divorced. She's 37 and feels her life lacks meaning. Her book series has been cancelled and she has a failed marriage behind her. However, when Mavis receives an email from her ex-boyfriend in high school, she sees this as a sign that they are meant to be together - even if he and his wife have just had a baby. Mavis heads home to Mercury, Minnesota with the plans to win back her ex, Buddy, and get her life back in order.
Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary
Patton Oswalt as Matt Freehauf
Patrick Wilson as Buddy Slade
Elizabeth Reaser as Beth Slade
Collette Wolfe as Sandra Freehauf
Hettienne Park as Vicki Robek
What I thought
As a reviewer of young adult books, the title of this film instantly attracted me. However, before watching the film, I didn't know anything about it other than Charlize Theron played the main character. Theron plays Mavis, a 37 year old woman who has just gone through a divorce. At the beginning of the film, Mavis is shown as a pretty pathetic character. She goes out drinking every night, sleeps with some random guy and spends her days wallowing in self-pity by watching re-runs of some really crappy TV show. Honestly, I didn't like Mavis at all to begin with. However, Theron is her usual brilliant self as she is in any role she plays. When Theron takes on a role, she plays it to the fullest that she possibly can. That means she was the most pathetic Mavis that she could possibly be.
Although the title of the film does partly come from Mavis writing young adult novels, it also comes from her need to live through her past. Mavis is hell bent on getting her high school sweetheart back and doesn't care one little bit that he appears to be happily married and has just has a baby with his wife. This aspect of the plot shows just how selfish and self-centred Mavis really is but also how desperate she is to get back to a time in her life when she felt good. It is quite obvious that life has not gone the way Mavis expected it to and she struggles with dealing with the fact that she is no longer the popular, prom queen anymore.
While Theron excels as Mavis, there are also some other cast members worth mentioning. The one who stood out for me was Patton Oswalt who plays Matt Freehauf. In high school, Matt was beaten up, leaving him partially disabled, and labelled as gay. When Mavis is out downing her sorrows again, she and Matt strike up an unlikely friendship as she lets him in on her plan to get Buddy back. Matt was a huge geek in high school and nothing has changed now that he's grown up. However, Matt's character is so likeable because he is very different from Mavis. Unlike her, he looks on the bright side of life and tries to get by as best he can. He doesn't let bad things in the past get him down.
At first, I thought that this film was going to be a romantic comedy. It isn't. Not by a long shot. In fact, it is quite depressing at times. While Mavis hasn't had a bad life, she is constantly down about herself and tries to make herself happy with drinking and sleeping around. Even though I didn't like her to begin with, I ended up feeling very sorry for her over the course of the film. Going from a big city to the small town she grew up in, it is clear just how much life has changed Mavis. Also, people back home don't seem to have a very good opinion of Mavis, some of them commenting behind her back. Mavis hates small town life and wouldn't be there if she didn't think it could help her in some way.
Young Adult is a sad but moving story about what life can be like if you don't take it for what it is. It is also a film about not living in the past, regretting things which you cannot change and dwelling on them for the rest of your life. While Young Adult was not at all what I was expecting, there is a great story and another fantastic performance by Charlize Theron.
I watched this film about a year after it was released, with no idea what it was about, so my review of it is not based on how good or bad I expected it to be. That helps with a film like Young Adult because it is such a unique film, though the reason why is hard to pinpoint. Let's start with the plot.
The central character in the film is Mavis Gary- the 'young adult'- who is a ghost writer living in Minneapolis. She grew up in Minnesota in a small town called Mercury which she doesn't particularly like. However, when she receives an email stating that her ex lover Buddy has had a baby with his new wife, with an invitation to the baby's christening attached to it, she becomes slightly obsessive about it. We do not learn why until much later in the film and I won't give anything away here, but what I will say is that Mavis is not a nice character; she is selfish, spoilt, and extremely shallow; yet there are clear reasons for the way she is and we learn these as the film progresses.
The picture we get of Mavis from the very start of the film is that she is a lost soul with no direction, swallowed up in a big city with no real friends or prospects. She is writing a teen romance but the plotline is dire; basic and formulaic; and clearly not fulfilling to someone with her energy. It's no secret that Mavis is deeply unhappy, going out drinking most nights and then crawling away from under strange men, neglecting her health and the health of her dog, and drinking copious amounts of Coca Cola when she is thirsty. She doesn't look after herself and she doesn't care, nor does she question the way her life is; the impression we get is that she supposes she is better off here than back home in Minnesota, though it's not clear why.
The only time we see a spark of happiness in Mavis's character is when she heads back to Mercury to see Buddy. She is convinced that he can't be happy tied down to a wife and a child and that she can seduce him into being her lover again. Their history is not explained but Buddy does greet Mavis as an old friend, which suggests a side to her character that we never really see in the film, since Buddy is an extremely nice guy, attentive husband and doting new father. When Mavis first calls Buddy he is in fact busy emptying pumps of breast milk into freezer bags. This contrast is extremely poignant as it shows a type of domestic bliss that Mavis, with her swanky flat in Minneapolis and her even-more-swanky flat in Minnesota, is simply unable to fathom.
Mavis bumps into old faces while she is in town which suggests her reasons for moving away; truths she would rather leave buried and not have to deal with, such as her relationship with her parents and the fact that everyone loves her for the way she looks. This is an obvious point throughout the film, that Mavis is extremely beautiful with a perfect body, which she constantly puts on show. She is fashionable and tall and blonde and therefore held high in everyone's esteem, which creates a barrier between who she really is and the way people insist on seeing her. Mavis is therefore arrogant in her assumption that she will gain Buddy's love again, even when she meets his wife and they seem happily married. His wife is very plain and this no doubt confirms Mavis's belief that Buddy will leave her with a littler intervention.
As a married woman with a young baby myself and as someone who has been through her fair share of unhappy times, I really related to this film. Yet I didn't dislike Mavis at all. I think this is because Charlize Theron plays her character so well- she is mean and selfish and spoilt, but she is also clearly lost and unhappy and in pain. In fact I would say that she is utterly depressed, and it's hard not to pity such a character. She relies on alcohol far too much and her only love, Buddy, is clearly not going to leave his wife for her. Yet she is so sure that her outside will protect her, when actually who she is inside is desperately unhappy and vulnerable. She is loved for her body but the only time it is really exposed to the character she is in an extremely vulnerable position and lacking her usual confidence. She is really just a ghost of a person controlled by her bitterness and unhappiness, and this is also reflected in her work as a writer of other people's books- she writes the stories but gets no acknowledgement for them, in the same way that people look at her outside as if that's all there is to her.
I won't give any of the film away but I also felt connected to Mavis when she admits the things that really keep her in such a sad and destructive place, ie things from her past. She is not your typical victim but she has not dealt with her fall from being the high school queen to being another nobody is what everyone in Mercury calls 'the Mini Apple', much to Mavis's chagrin, and her obvious desperation really made my heart go out to her.
Mavis hates the small-town, village-like way of thinking, speaking and acting, even though people in Mercury seem much happier, content and more honest than Mavis is, however they won't allow her to be that way; in some ways they even expect her to be mean and spoilt because she is good looking and a working woman and is therefore expected to be a certain way. As much as Mavis dislikes the town she grew up in, it is clear that it is a part of her; it has made her the way she is, made her think that she is worth more than a family home, having babies and contentment. Everyone in Mercury sees Mavis as successful for living the dream in the big city which only shows her isolation from them more; they have no idea of the loneliness and isolation she feels. No doubt she can't understand why she feels those things too, when she is meant to be living the dream, is successful, rich etc.
It's not often that I watch a film and find myself thinking about it, wondering about the character and feeling pity or sadness relating to him or her. I did with this film. Even though it is not overly dramatic, doesn't try to be very sad or very happy, and is closer to Lost in Translation in portraying Mavis's relationships and the silent divide between her and everyone around her, it really struck me with its honesty. I think there are a lot of Mavises in the world and that Theron portrayed her character outstandingly well. I also think that a lot of young adults go through a similar journey, where they feel what they have lost- as teenagers who were so ready to make the world their own- and as they see peers become parents and people who are settled down with their own lives rather than still going out drinking and having one-night stands, eating packet foods and so on. For some people, it's an early mid-life crisis of sorts.
I bought this DVD for only £4 from a charity shop because I like to pick random titles that I have heard nothing about, and I'm really glad I did, though I still can't say exactly what it was about the film that made such a strong impression on me. I highly recommend it to anyone though, with the warning that you may be surprised by what this film has to offer. It gets 5 stars from me and I doubt I'll ever forget it.
Nominated for a Golden Globe, Young Adult is a comedy about a woman called Mavis (Charlize Theron) who returns to her home town having moved to the city in an attempt to win back her high school love, Matt (Patrick Wilson).
Writing a Young adult book series, the film reflects her book writing almost as a parallel as the happenings to her influence her writing almost directly. This is a nice touch and adds to the structural depth.
Mavis is a sloppy child-like woman who eats microwave food, wears hello kitty t shirts and plays video games. Her house is a mess. When she receives an email about her high school love having had his first baby, she gets hung up about it and decides to return to town and try to win him back.
Despite the fact that he is happily married, Mavis worms her way into his life, teasing him with drinks and flirtatiousness to no avail. With her sex appeal and forwardness, Mavis feels invincible, but when she realises that everyone around her has grown up, what will she do?
I thought the characterisation of Mavis was great and she was definitely a memorable woman, but the whole film was just a bit sleazy and flat. Yes, there were bits that were somewhat amusing but the thing overall was appallingly awful and I would not recommend anyone to see this.
When you watch a movie like this, you kind of expect it to have some sort of target audience- this I honestly cannot think who it would be suited to. Wannabe sluts? Kidults who need to move on with their life? Older women who miss their youth? I seriously don't know.
As a young adult myself, I found it extremely boring and surprised I could finish it all the way to the end. I guess I just wanted to know if she would manage to get the man of her dreams or not... and the ending was satisfactory and did make the movie slightly better. Just a little bit.
Charlize Theron- Mavis
Patrick Wilson- Matt
Charlize Theron was likeable but her talent is wasted here. Although she does create a memorable character, the whole plot was quite disastrous and no Charlize Theron could save it.
I expected a lot more from it given the publicity surrounding it at the time of release. I was utterly disappointed. Wasted money, wasted talent- several hundred African children could have had a good meal if they just donated the money to them instead of making a pointless and unenjoyable film like this. Maybe it was just me, but I saw no delights from this whatsoever. Avoid.
I was desperate to see this film when it came out in the cinema - everything about it told me it was bound to be good. Charlize Theron (!!), written by Diablo Cody (of Juno fame) and directed by Jason Reitman (also of Juno fame). I absolutely loved Juno and really enjoy Charlize Theron in anything so this had to be the perfect film for me. The trailer was also really funny and with a darkly humorous plot line I couldn't wait to see it. But...wait I did, I didn't manage to see it in the cinema so waited until it came out on DVD and then bought myself a copy.
So the idea behind the film is a sort of exploration of what happens to the bitchy popular girl after she leaves high school. I think this is a really interesting and thus far unexplored concept and it is done in a really clever and realistic way in this film. It isn't a laugh a minute film, the humour is subtle and dark and heart breaking at times - but that is the beauty of it, it's totally understated.
The film follows Mavis Gary, a Minneapolis based Young Adult author of teen has-been 'Waverly Prep'. Mavis comes from a small town in Minnesota called Mercury and it is obvious she hasn't been back in a long time. After receiving an email from her high school boyfriend introducing his brand new baby to friends she is determined to go back and save him from his bleak existence. Mavis' own marriage has failed and she is clearly embittered and cynical and life. She is struggling to write the final instalment of her teen vampire series and struggling to cope with everyday life. She returns to the small town and instantly arranges to meet up with Buddy, her high-school boyfriend and proud new Dad.
One lonely night drinking by herself she bumps into Matt Freehauf, someone she went to high school with and clearly has no recollection of. Matt was beaten to within an inch of his life by a bunch of jocks during high school as they believed him to be gay. As a result Matt walks with a crutch and basically hates life and everyone in small town Mercury. Mavis and Matt instantly bond over their hatred of everything and drink together on a regular basis - real life transcends the boundaries created in high school and this unlikely pair become good friends. Meanwhile Mavis puts into action her plan to seduce Buddy. Buddy appears keen to spend time with Mavis though is clearly besotted with his wife and young child. Mavis is deluded about her power over Buddy and continues this cringe-worthy path of destruction. The film culminates in a hugely embarrassing and depressing scene at the naming ceremony of the baby. I won't spoil the ending of the film for you but needless to say Mavis has definitely misinterpreted signs she has read from Buddy.
I absolutely love this film, the plot and the cast are brilliant. Charlize Theron is just fantastic in this - at once both abrasive and cruel whilst being utterly compelling and vulnerable. She plays it perfectly, Mavis is by no means likeable and there is no real reason for the audience to pity this grown up high school bitch. But there is something in Charlize Theron's performance that forces you to see the sadness in Mavis' life and the destructive spiral her life is on fuelled by drink and drugs. Ultimately it is a totally believable portrayal of popular high school girl grown up. She has never since managed to achieve the same adoration she felt in high school, her looks are fading and more and more she depends on clip on hair extensions, make up and expensive clothes. Her only real companion is her dog Dolce, and even he is often neglected. Mavis is sad but the saddest part of all is that she fails to see the way in which other people view her. She believes herself to be this huge success story from a small town, but in actual fact her life is falling apart while those who stayed in Mercury are happy.
I think the plot and characterisation are utterly compelling and really draw you into the film. The DVD cost me £10 from HMV and was worth every single penny spent. I really love this film, I would watch it again and probably enjoy it more next time round because there are so many subtle jokes and physical nuances that you pick up on each time you watch. I would definitely recommend it as a sharp and witty film with a dark undertone.