Young Adult Reviews
A fierce performance by Charlize Theron but bland, forgettable work from everyone else except Patton Oswald who does what he can with a bizarrely created character who was the victim of a sort-of hate crime. Something is off about this movie but if you're an actor, it's worth it to see what Charlize Theron created with this role.
Rewarded for their efforts with three Academy Award nominations and one win (for best screenplay), they proved that not only is humour notoriously subjective but it is also worth its weight. Other writers have utilised the concept of self-aware, overly verbose characters churning out countless rom-coms made from the same mould; as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
In 2011, the duo has reformed in an attempt to rekindle that magic with Young Adult and put the flattering copycats in their place. Sadly however, the cultural shtick has been exhausted and the icy human observations of a train wreck waiting to happen character is no longer funny, not even in the bleak way.
Broken from her recent divorce, the boozy, unprincipled and profoundly unhappy Mavis Gray (Charlize Theron) lives a zombie-like existence in the mini-apple of Minneapolis. A ghost-writer for a failing series of young-adult novels, Mavis suffers from an acute case of writer's block and a belated belle-of-the-high-school-ball grandeur complex that only her ever patient fluffy toy dog Dolce can tolerate long term.
When she receives an email with a picture of a beautiful baby girl and an announcement that her ex home town sweetheart Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) has become a father, Mavis's mental state hits rock bottom. Waking from her stupor, Mavis becomes obsessed with the idea that she can simply blow back into her honky-tonk small home town of Mercury and reclaim the long forgotten romance between her and Buddy.
After contacting buddy and arranging a time appropriate drink the following day, Mavis heads to the nearest bar. Downing the first of many drinks, the ultimately blunt Mavis becomes engaged in a painful conversation with former classmate Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) about his high school tortures and his life now as an overweight cripple.
Unable to overcome his own demons, Matt lives at home, makes moonshine and paints miniature figurines, but when Mavis shares her secret plan to steal buddy back all Matt's issues pale in comparison to the psychotic prom queen's insecurities.
Mavis's rosy mist of denial makes it impossible to hear the harsh home truths and no amount of wake up calls and woeful looks can penetrate her armour. Dealing with each uncomfortable situation with the same amount of in indignation leads to a mixture of hilarious and truly tragic situations as Mavis's life finally goes belly up. Sometimes home is not sweet home.
Theron seamlessly transitions from beautiful seductress to memorably mean mental case, making viewers laugh and squirm as required; Oswalt's underlying current of melancholy is ever present and well balanced with the character, when these two are on screen together you can feel the good intentions driving the film, even if you can't sink into them.
The Verdict: Slightly off balance and constantly teetering on the edge, Young adults never falls into either funny or moving. Like Mavis, viewers are left wanting in life and love for this hollow film.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 27/01/2012