Unknown and unwarranted – Believe it or not, some ideas never make it to the big screen. Shocking, I know, especially when garbage like “Jack and Jill” is out in theaters, but it’s true. Some writers and producers never get that shot, no matter how talented they may or may not be. So, it’s refreshing to see someone like Diablo Cody come along, as it’s not often a stripper writes a screenplay that goes on to win an Oscar. But, that’s only part of what makes Cody’s story so unique, as her own life could be her next script if she wanted. Instead, we get stories like “Juno” and the one in “Young Adult,” a film that on the surface seems quite transparent, but in reality is anything but.
What’s it about? It’s all fun and games until you find yourself divorced, jaded and almost unemployed. Even at just 37 years old, that’s where Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) was, no matter how hard she tried to deny it to herself and anyone that would listen. Truth was, Mavis had been the engine behind a very popular teen book series, until it fell out of favor and eventually off the sale racks. With just one more book to write, Mavis found herself at a crossroads of not wanting to let it all go, but knowing she had to. So, one day when the words were just simply not coming to her, she opened her e-mail and uncovered a birth announcement from her high-school sweetheart, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). Unprepared for this jolt of reality and unwarranted jealously, Mavis quickly packed a suitcase, her laptop and dog. Within minutes, she was in the car and on her way to get Buddy back from the hometown she vowed to never return to. A ridiculous plan, but a plan nonetheless, as doing this made more sense to Mavis than anything else she was doing or running from. However, once there, she realized getting Buddy back would not be easy, leading to an extremely unusual and all too revealing conclusion that might have you laughing and crying.
Who was in it? For most people, the cast will be the last reason they go see “Young Adult.” That’s no slight on Charlize Theron, who can certainly pull her weight around in any film. It’s just the truth behind a film that was more about the story than the actors cast to move within it. With that said, I did enjoy seeing Theron in this role, as she seems to excel in things you wouldn’t normally think she could do. That was definitely the case here with the role as Mavis, who made an impact in just about every scene she walked into. Yeah it was awkward at times, but that’s the point Cody wanted to hammer home with this character piece. Here is Theron, an A-lister in a ‘B’ movie that winds up being A-quality. That’s special and definitely worthy of a nomination. As for the rest of the cast, I did like Patton Oswalt, who fit in perfectly as the old classmate that was ignored in high school; able to add in just enough reality and humor to the story that allowed the audience to see Theron’s own Mavis from a different perspective. Anyone else pretty much just fit in wherever needed, which was fine given the shallow complexities of this story.
A lethal combination – The average moviegoer has no idea who Jason Reitman or even Diablo Cody, for that matter, is. Sure, they ‘may’ have heard of Cody and part of her unique story, but won’t know she was the mind behind “Juno.” That’s too bad, because Cody is on the verge of something we have not seen in awhile, which quite honestly is cool to see given all the sequels and reboots monopolizing Hollywood on any given Friday. And you almost have to step outside the box for a minute before stepping back in to fully understand Cody’s methods, as they always seem more transparent than they really are. This works perfectly with a director like Jason Reitman, who likes to pay attention to detail and focus on things other directors would never choose to focus on. Sure, maybe that seems odd to some people, but in the realm of what is or isn’t important in a story, Reitman chooses to focus on the energy his cast is creating. This allows a dynamic screenwriter like Cody to add in all her subtle jabs and humor to a story that quite frankly may not appear to be that way at all. So, while you could easily say this film is slow and dry in parts, it all was part of the dynamic landscape Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman created.
Bottom Line – “Young Adult” may not be for everyone, but for those wanting to see something real and different, go watch this dynamic story penned by Diablo Cody. It might not be groundbreaking or anything, but it’s not meant to be, which to me is almost as good of reason as any to go check it out.
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