April 28, 2012

See This Movie: Young Adult

Another snowy Alberta weekend, another flick at home; it’s this time of year when last year’s biggest and best movies come out on DVD and Video-on-Demand (VOD), and this weekend we watched Young Adult.

This dark comedy starring Charlize Theron got good reviews and sank at the box office. I see why; this is not a mainstream Hollywood comedy --- no heroic underdog, no “meet cute” romance, no heartfelt lessons learned, no sweet ending.

Oscar winner Theron is brave and funny as Mavis, our lonely bitchy boozy “Young Adult” novelist. She is the vain, mean girl from high school who never grew up; the town remembers her as "the psychotic prom queen bitch.” Mavis is cruel, self-centered and self-pitying. And while I didn't like her, I sure did like watching her.
The movie is dark, the cast is stellar. It was great to see Jill Eikenberry again. Patton Oswalt may be my new hero. Patrick Wilson is just hot. And Up In The Air director Jason Reitman shows he is one of our generation’s best.

Mavis is a drunken wreck, bored in her big city life, so she comes back to Mercury, the small town where she grew up, a place she dismisses: “Did I really get that much better? Or did everyone else get that much worse?”

She is intent on stealing back her old boyfriend, who is happily married and new father - a domestic life she compares to being held hostage.

Young Adult challenges the conventional Hollywood wisdom that a protagonist must be likable. It ignores movie norms about high school, small-town life, heterosexuality, Minnesota and the capacity of human beings to grow.

This is not a light or lighthearted movie. Theron shows her character's nasty and snarky side, and also shows the pain and fear beneath it. Young Adult is fearless and funny, a brave and somewhat cynical look at people who don't grow up. This movie will get a split reaction - it did in our house. I liked it. See Young Adult.