Friday, 1 June 2012

Young Adult

Young Adult, 2011
Directed by Jason Reitman

Young Adult tells a story about that girl we all hated in high school. That really mean one, but somehow she's still popular. Okay, I've never really met anyone like her, but we've all seen Mean Girls, and various other American High School movies. This is the story of that girl, all grown up, except she hasn't really grown up at all. Mavis Gary is stuck in the past. She writes young adult fiction, she wears Uggs and sweat pants, and only tries to look good when she's going out at night. After receiving an email from her high school ex-boyfriend Buddy, that he and his wife are now parents, Mavis decides to return to Mercury, Minnesota (her hometown & where Buddy lives) and to try and get him back.

Initially, watching the trailer, I thought this movie would be awesomely hilarious, and that Charlize Theron would give a super awesome performance, and it would be unique. I was partly right about this thinking. This film was way less funny than I imagined it was going to be, but I don't consider this a bad thing.

Mavis Gary is a complex person. She's stuck in the past, filled with bitterness and regret. She longs to be back in high school where she was still hooking up with all the guys, picking on all the girls, and just loving life and being popular. Mavis seemed to learn the hard way that the way you live in high school just doesn't cut it in the real world. Eventually you need to grow up and become a real person. And that's something Mavis never seemed to learn. She's still the mean girl, who flirts with other people's husbands, is rude to people she doesn't know, and drinks whenever she can.

Charlize Theron really knocks it out of the park in this movie. She's everything we all hate in those mean girls, and we feel so little sympathy for her. She's mean, she's vain, and she's slightly crazy. Really, she's still that mean girl, still a teenager, and not ready to grow up. Charlize hits all the right notes with Mavis.

Many people have compared Bridemaids' Annie (Kristen Wiig) to Young Adult's Mavis (Charlize Theron). They are similar characters in various ways. They're both filled with bitterness, lash out at others, and are just extremely immature and mean. But Mavis is definitely the winner in this character contest. Mavis is over the top and mean, whereas Annie is just bitter and spiteful. Mavis pushes the boundaries everywhere she can whereas Annie only seems to toe the line in comparison.

Now, I can't forget Patton Oswalt. Oswalt plays Matt, a boy Mavis had a locker next to in high school. He got beat up in the woods by jocks because they thought he was gay. They smashed his leg with a crowbar, and he's never walked the same since. Matt is the exact opposite of everything Mavis is. Matt is in a crappy situation but he doesn't complain, and he accepts what he's been dealt in life. Mavis is in a pretty good place, being beautiful and having made it out of Mercury, yet she constantly complains about everything around her.  Patton Oswalt plays Matt with such a sympathy, yet with a hint of humor. He's a nice guy, and Patton Oswalt plays him quite well.

While I really enjoyed the performances, I felt the story could've had way more to offer. The end and the solution came all too quickly, and didn't offer very much. We'd constantly see Mavis pulling out bits of her hair, talking about depression, etc, and nothing seemed to come of these possible outcomes. The ending was quite dissatisfying. Additionally, I'd have loved to seen more of Mavis with old high school friends, instead of just with Matt, or with Buddy. It'd have been interesting to see how her old clique had grown up, maturing, unlike Mavis.

However, it was still quite an enjoyable film, and it's a big shame Charlize didn't get nearly as much attention for her role as Mavis than she deserved. I'd have loved to see an Oscar nomination for this quirky part, but alas.


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