6 February 2012
YOUNG ADULT- Review
Mavis Gary is an author of young adult fiction, more specifically a ghost writer, on a popular series that is coming to an end. Up against a deadline on the final book, she's suffering from writer's block. While procrastinating online, she discovers that her high school sweetheart, Buddy Slade, now married to someone else, has just welcomed a baby daughter. In a fit of delusion about the chance of rekindling with her old flame, Mavis ups sticks and returns to her hometown in Minnesota, and resolves to wreck Buddy's home life and "rescue" him.
The reunion between Cody and her Juno director Jason Reitman seems like a pretty good fit for Young Adult. Coming off of the critical success of Up in the Air, another story about a disaffected adult, Reitman picks up some of Juno's idiosyncrasies once again. Juno was quite a subversive teen movie, and this film is basically a reprisal of all those other, more conventional teen movies of the 1990s, in which popular kids are popular, and thus happy. The character of Mavis Gary is a thesis about how popular and attractive girls cope once they leave high school and enter the real world.
But then the problems with Bad Teacher were based around the fact that the obligatory commercial comedy arc of that film was to turn Diaz's Elizabeth Halsey from a truly loathsome character into a slightly less detestable one. Cody sticks to her guns in making sure that Mavis is never likeable, only pitiful, all the way through, and Reitman makes good on the character study by making small-town Minnesota look as drab and washed-out as possible while amping up the 90s alt-rock that soundtracked Mavis' glory days. He also gets a phenomenal performance out of Patton Oswalt, as Matt, a tragic figure who has nothing but resentment for his high school days.
Matt is a much more sympathetic figure, more justifiably cynical than any of the other characters in the film, and so the film is really at its best when he and Theron share the screen. It's a bizarre relationship between the two, barely qualifying as a friendship and largely focused on Matt telling Mavis how insane she sounds. Only remembering Jason Bateman's character in Juno could ever make you think that Patrick Wilson's Buddy could ever reciprocate Mavis' advances, and the expectations of that particular type of male character are considered and subverted throughout.
Young Adult is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Young Adult, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.