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Young Adult (2011)


Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 179
Fresh: 144
Rotten: 35

Critics Consensus: Despite its somewhat dour approach, Young Adult is a funny and ultimately powerful no-holds-barred examination of prolonged adolescence, thanks largely to a convincing performance by Charlize Theron.

Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 38
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: Despite its somewhat dour approach, Young Adult is a funny and ultimately powerful no-holds-barred examination of prolonged adolescence, thanks largely to a convincing performance by Charlize Theron.


Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 34,141


Movie Info

Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson). When returning home proves more difficult than she thought, Mavis forms an unusual bond with a former classmate (Patton Oswalt) who hasn't quite gotten over high school, either. -- (C) Paramount

R (for language and some sexual content)
Drama , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Diablo Cody
In Theaters:
Mar 13, 2012
Box Office:
Paramount Studios - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Young Adult

All Critics (181) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (144) | Rotten (35) | DVD (8)

There has always been something so inward about [Theron;] she can seem detached or deprived. But here it's as if the script and the direction felt bound to heed that loneliness, and let the actress go with her bravery and the depressive sag of her mouth.

Full Review… | June 20, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

There is a raw honesty here rare in movies, and it's very funny too - excruciating at times.

Full Review… | January 31, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Young Adult may be the year's most engaging feel-bad movie.

Full Review… | December 16, 2011
Detroit News
Top Critic

There's little about Mavis that makes for feel-good revelry. That's an understatement, perhaps. Yet, Theron's work feels true to Mavis' malaise -- and often, just as sad.

Full Review… | December 16, 2011
Denver Post
Top Critic

As good as Theron and Oswalt are, and they're very good, Young Adult doesn't give them enough room to breathe.

Full Review… | December 16, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

A low-key, indie-style comedy that plays precariously close to an unfunny sociopathic case study.

Full Review… | December 16, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Kudos to Reitman, Cody, and Theron for crafting such a great bastard-ess, who you'll either feel empathy, like myself, or uncontrollable hatred for.

Full Review… | August 11, 2014
Film School Rejects

You sense the teeth-chattering chill almost as deeply as you admire the bravery of a pitch-black performance by Theron that begs nothing but contempt for her scurrilous Mavis Gary.

Full Review… | May 26, 2013
The Patriot Ledger

Jason Reitman and Charlize Theron create a realistic insight into what happens to the popular high school student who can't adjust to the real world in Young Adult.

Full Review… | January 29, 2013
We Got This Covered

"Young Adult" is not a terrible film, just one that was not thought out very well.

Full Review… | September 18, 2012

Theron crushes the role, channeling her best Mean Girls impression, providing Mavis a riotously self-centered persona.

Full Review… | August 25, 2012

You're squirming watching this abhorrent behaviour and you're challenged to re-evaluate your golden perception of the past. Young Adult isn't going to be exactly what you expect - enjoy it. It's a nice relief to be surprised.

Full Review… | May 8, 2012
2UE That Movie Show

Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman have still managed to get at a fundamental truth that screenplays traditionally ignore. People don't change. Character "arc" is one of those myths that movies perpetuate.

Full Review… | March 23, 2012
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

It's so rare that women get to play fully rounded, three dimensional, flawed human beings, that's it's almost kind of unsettling to realise that's what's going on here.

Full Review… | March 22, 2012

A cautionary tale? A slice of life? A demeaning of big-city shallowness or small-town complacency? Who knows. It's certainly a depressing black comedy.

Full Review… | March 12, 2012
Movie Metropolis

Filled with pain disguised as comedy, it presents a real-life Peter Pan complex where letting go of one's youth is complicated and painful.

Full Review… | March 8, 2012

Cody and Reitman were once two of the most promising talents in the filmmaking business, but Young Adult erases any of their past success from memory. I truly hope for a return to form soon because YA is a real downer.

Full Review… | March 8, 2012
The Popcorn Junkie

Anthropological rather than aspirational.

Full Review… | March 2, 2012
The Ooh Tray

...a narrative treadmill; you get the sense Mavis is still out there somewhere, lonely and lost as when we first met her.

Full Review… | March 1, 2012

Young Adult is much funnier and infinitely more savage than Cody's earlier collaboration with director Jason Reitman, the cute but rather cosy Juno.

Full Review… | February 14, 2012
Sight and Sound

This is one of the best contemporary dramas to come along in years.

Full Review… | February 9, 2012

Theron is excellent and heartbreaking as she experiences her midlife crisis and sees how much she's misread the world around her.

Full Review… | February 5, 2012
Observer [UK]

Daring and different but just way too dark.

Full Review… | February 3, 2012
Little White Lies

Go see. Squirmingly funny.

Full Review… | February 3, 2012
Daily Mirror [UK]

Here is a film that could have been awful but is so carefully nuanced that it is one of the most satisfying of the year.

Full Review… | February 3, 2012
This is London

Audience Reviews for Young Adult


Diablo Cody has previously written Juno and Jennifer's Body, and I got to admit, I really don't enjoy her work. However with Young Adults I was surprised. Charlize Theron is a great actress, and what I love about her is that not only is she beautiful, but she has acting skills and is not just a pretty face. In this film she really delivers a wonderful performance that is funny and sad at the same time. The plot is quite interesting, and I was surprised I enjoyed the film like I did. However the strength of the movie lies with Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt's chemistry and for me, I really felt that it's what made the movie work. Even with my reservations of Cody's work, I'll say that this is her best script, and it is by far better than the overrated Juno. Young Adults combines comedy and drama perfectly and that's only matched by a fine cast and great direction. If you want a great dramatic comedy, then this is the film to watch. Theron is wonderful here and she yet again displays her talent on-screen in a performance that is one of her best in many years. There are things that could have been improved upon, but overall this is an engaging movie that is worth seeing. Young Adults is a fine film that is worth seeing. Charlize Theron does impressive work yet again and is perfect for the part she plays. The film has few flaws, but overall is an entertaining drama with just the right amount of humor to make it interesting.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman team up again to give us a second honest story about the Midwest, and it hits just as hard and contains as many awkward laughs - maybe more - than their first joint, Juno. Charlize Theron repulses in this film as the successful, beautiful New Yorker who comes home to get her dream man and her sense of self back only to implode in the process. It's not a normal film in that it doesn't wrap itself up in a tidy little bow, but rather one with which you hobble toward the ending, hoping to cross the line but worried that you just won't make it. I've read a lot of mixed reviews, and I think the reason is that in places - particularly a baby shower that the titular author ruins - it's completely uncomfortable to watch. A valuable work because it gets down in the trenches, the pain and the mud of the ordinary, the relative-to-the-observer meanings of "normal," or "accomplished," or "happy." A challenging work from the mainstream with a detestable anti-hero, and a film that's the better for it. Jason Reitman is climbing my list of favourite directors.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

A very depressing and horrible film, which has some how drawn me and involved me into it's world. Mavis is such a horrible, uncaring and unchanging character, but something makes me love her and hope that she'll sort herself out one day.

Sophie Burgess

Super Reviewer


An excellent film. Simply filmed and darkly funny. Theron gives a wonderful performance.


Young Adult Quotes

Mavis Gary:
Matt, don't you get it. Love conquers all. Have you not seen the graduate or like, I don't know, anything?
– Submitted by Katie F (2 years ago)
Mavis Gary:
Mother, I'm trying to tell a story here.
– Submitted by Ezix Q (2 years ago)
Sandra Freehauf:
Take me with you.
Mavis Gary:
Excuse me?
Sandra Freehauf:
Take me with you. To the Mini Apple.
Mavis Gary:
You're good here, Sandra.
– Submitted by Lucas M (2 years ago)
Mavis Gary:
Sometimes in order to heal a few people have to get hurt.
– Submitted by Lucas M (2 years ago)
Mavis Gary:
Mary Ellen, you were great tonight. It's so inspiring to see a single mother with so much confidence on stage. Really.
– Submitted by Lucas M (2 years ago)
Mavis Gary:
I'm crazy. And no one loves me.
– Submitted by Cameron E (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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