“The list of actors whose movies I always hafta go see is pretty long. The list of directors is a bit shorter. For screenplay writers, that list is one: Diablo Cody (I’m counting writer/directors in with directors). With Juno, I learned that Cody is capable of writing some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard. Said it many times, but dialogue is what makes or breaks a movie for me, so I rank her clever quips and brilliant banter up there with Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith. What I learned with Young Adult is that Ms Brooke Busey (that’s Diablo Cody’s real name, trivia for the day) is that she’s also capable of writing some of the most complex and thought provoking characters.
The movie is about Mavis Gary, played by Charlize Theron. Mavis was the total it girl bitch in high school, but while she talks a big game, life hasn’t exactly fallen her way in the two decades since graduation. She returns to her hometown to try to win back her now married-with-infant high school sweetheart. I found myself constantly going back and forth on what I should be thinking and feeling towards her character. The movie was bringing up so many bad memories of high school and dealing with the Mavises of my school. But at the same time, there was something that drew you to her and you were pulling for her, even though you hated her. You knew what she was trying to do was wrong, but she’s hit such a low rock bottom that you wanna see her come out of it. Charlize Theron played her so brilliantly, her tone, expressions, everything dead on. You simultaneously wanna slap her and hug her. Such a bizarre feeling.
What I also like about how Cody wrote it is that Mavis is a YA fiction writer, trying to finish up the last book in her teeny bopper series. You see her building out the story as her own plot unfolds, drawing from and mirroring her situation. Just such a cool way to frame the story and get another perspective into our protagonist.
The movie also featured Patrick Wilson as the ex-sweetie and Patton Oswalt as the grown up geek. I absolutely adore Patrick Wilson and love getting to see him in more and more movies. He had the whole awkward suburbinite thing down, although I think there was just a little too much oblivious going on with him (though given where things end, which I wont spoil, it actually does make sense). Oswalt was also fantastic as our damaged by high school voice of reason and pseudo-accomplice for Mavis. He was certainly the heart of the movie and made such a fantastic pair with our leading lady.
What stops me from completely raving about the film was that it did feel a bit awkward and clunky. I think that came from a combination of the aforementioned mixed feelings towards the person who’s in every scene of the movie, with her embarassingly crazy antics, and the spot on depiction of the stereotypical mean girl. It almost got painful to watch, not because it was bad, but because it was almost too good, forcing me to think about topics that I’d prefer to leave unthunk. There’s definitely something to be said for a film being that level of thought provoking.
Young Adult – \m/ \m/ \m/
PS – Also kinda cool to see Hettienne Park, even if it was only one scene. She’s currently on Broadway in Seminar, which I saw last week.”