Young Adult

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.



Total Count: 193


Audience Score

User Ratings: 35,091
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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


Charlize Theron
as Mavis Gary
Patton Oswalt
as Matt Freehauf
Patrick Wilson
as Buddy Slade
Elizabeth Reaser
as Beth Slade
Collette Wolfe
as Sandra Freehauf
Jill Eikenberry
as Hedda Gary
Richard Bekins
as David Gary
Kate Nowlin
as Mary Ellen Trantowski
Jenny Dare Paulin
as Nipple Confusion Bassist
Rebecca Hart
as Nipple Confusion Bassist
Louisa Krause
as Front Desk Girl
Brian McElhaney
as Book Associate
John Forest
as Wheelchair Mike
Rightor Doyle
as Babysitter
Brady Smith
as Date Man
Timothy Young
as Champions Server
Erin Darke
as Teen Employee
Jee Young Han
as Teen Employee
Matt Wilson
as Teenage Clerk
Orlagh Cassidy
as Party Guest
Charles Techman
as Parking Attendant
Emily Meade
as Denny's Waitress
Neil Hellegers
as Young Dad
Michael Nathanson
as Champions Greeter
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Critic Reviews for Young Adult

All Critics (193) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (154) | Rotten (39)

  • 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.

    Jun 20, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Daring and different but just way too dark.

    Feb 3, 2012 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 3, 2012 | Full Review…
  • Cody delivers a stinging repudiation of that sentimental piety that is also Hollywood's biggest and most fatuous lie: that home is always best, and monochrome Kansas is better than dazzling, multi-colour Oz.

    Feb 2, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • There is a raw honesty here rare in movies, and it's very funny too - excruciating at times.

    Jan 31, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Young Adult may be the year's most engaging feel-bad movie.

    Dec 16, 2011 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Young Adult

  • Jun 25, 2013
    <i>"What the hell are you talking about??" "We can work things out, you know that, we can be adults about this." "Mavis, I'm a married man." "I know, and we can get past it, together."</i> Surehanded direction from the younger Reitman follows the unfulfilled ghost author of a successful teen fiction series back to her smalltown roots as she attempts to win back her highschool sweetheart. One stumbling block - he's happily marred with a newborn daughter! Charlize Theron can disappear into a character as well as anyone and deserved her Oscar nomination here. As Mavis Gary she carries an air of aloof surperiority, but is not without self-awareness about her flaws and pitiable.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 17, 2012
    This is an excellent film with some excellent writing and a fantastic performances from their leads. The strength of the script lies in the fact that some people simply don't change, or they simply refuse to. That may lead many to be disappointed in the film since you do get to see this character of Mavis Gary be, quite frankly, the biggest bitch she can be to everybody around here, trying to break up a happily married man from his wife, thinking of herself as the biggest thing to ever hit Mercury despite her life being utterly boring. What with watching the Kardashians all day, so there's some part of you that would like to see her change. But it's refreshing to see a film where a character goes on being selfish, I think it takes a lot of balls. And Charlize Theron is more than up to the task of becoming this complete and utterly unlikable character. She's incredible in the role and was incredibly convincing at playing this woman who, for some reason or another, is still stuck in her high school days. She hasn't grown up because she doesn't want to and it's an interesting character to watch and to see where her actions take her. It's interesting to see how the book she's writing is influenced by the events in her real life and how she distorts everything to suit her own ego in the book. The movie is also very funny, but it's not a laugh-out-loud kind of funny. It's just funny seeing the lengths to which Mavis goes to cause harm to good people. As mentioned the writing is excellent, it is sharp and clever. I also enjoyed Patton and Charlize's scenes together because they do have an antagonistic chemistry with each other, yet for some reason they still like each a strange way. Patton Oswalt does a great job too, but it's really the Charlize Theron show. She is simply incredible, really. Of course the writing is still tremendous, but without a convincing lead performance, which Charlize more than delivered on, the film wouldn't have been nearly as good. It's not going to be everybody's cup of tea due to its darker themes, but I really loved this film.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2012
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 29, 2012
    The story of a woman who sets out to ruin a guy's marriage. Charmless bilge.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer

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