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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Young Adult | Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson | Review

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Young Adult

Former stripper turned screenwriter Diablo Cody, who won an Academy Award for Juno (a film I think was totally over rated),  reteams with Juno director Ivan Reitman for her second feature film, starring Charlize Theron.

The Oscar winning actress is the “young adult” of the title and she is turns in her best performance since Monster, playing Mavis Gary, a 37 year old divorced ghost writer of young adult fiction novels with stunning model looks, but on the inside is a self centered bitch that doesn't think twice about going after anything she wants or who she hurts in the process.

Case in point;  after receiving an email from her former high school flame, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), announcing the birth of his new baby, Mavis decides to take off from her high rise apartment in Minneapolis and drive in her Mini Cooper with her little dog in tow to visit her old home town with the idea of matching up with her old beau.  It doesn't matter to Mavis that he is happily married and a new dad.  Mavis is convinced she and Buddy were meant to be together and nothing should stand in their way.

After arriving in town and stopping for a drink at the local bar, she first encounters Matt (a superb performance by Patton Oswalt) the geeky, fat kid from high school that was a victim of a hate crime by bullies who mistakenly thought he was gay. As a result of the beating, he was left partially crippled and walks with a brace. Mavis barely remembers Matt, but now the former prom queen and nerdy guy have something in common which leads to an unusual bond.  Neither have let go of their high school memories, carry some heavy baggage from the past, and need to grow up. Yet, he understands her more than she knows herself, and he becomes a safety net that she can turn to since there isn't anyone else in town she can connect with.  They all remember her as the pretty, but mean girl and she hasn't changed a bit.

There is no sympathy to be felt for Theron's character.  Mavis is a despicable, unlikeable individual displaying reprehensible behavior and has no redeeming qualities. Unhappy, self destructive, and emotionally immature, she keeps a messy apartment, drinks too much, watches reality TV programs like Keeping Up With The Kardashians and has a habit of pulling hairs out of her head. Obviously, she has issues and is deeply troubled. Nevertheless, she thinks she is superior from the people who still live in her home town.

What is it with Cody?  Was she so hardened by her former occupation that she views life from the dark side, and felt the need to change her first name to Diablo, Spanish for Devil?  Just like Juno, she has Mavis referring to the baby as “it”,  believing the little one is an inconvenience, and showing no respect for fidelity, marriage, or family values.

Whether Cody's fictional female characters are a reflection of some of today's young adults or not, once again she sets a bad example for impressionable young females who are in need of more morally and ethically responsible role models.

Despite the fact that Mavis has a meltdown and is humiliated in front of Buddy, his family, friends, and her own parents who have enabled her, instead of learning a lesson that would send a positive message, the ending is nothing short of inexcusable with no need for redemption in sight.

Young Adult is being released as a “dark comedy”. However, I don't think there is anything to laugh about. While Theron and Oswalt's performances are top notch they cannot save this film.  Why waste your time on a lost cause.

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