Jason Reitman has said that “Young Adult,” his latest feature film, out today, is unlike any of the films he’s directed. True. He also stated that a near death experience on an airplane lead him to question whether he would be comfortable having YA be his final film, to which he concluded he would. Whether the comfort would derive from the delusion that “Young Adult,” is his finest film, or that he simply feels he should die for creating such a piece of schlock is unclear. “Young Adult,” is unlike any of Reitman’s previous films, in that it is bad.
The film revolves around the superficial, egomaniacal world of young adult novelist, Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron). When Mavis receives a baby announcement from her high school flame, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson,) it leads her back to her hometown of Mercury, Virginia, in hopes of stealing back what is not rightfully hers (i.e. Buddy.) Back in Mercury, Mavis sparks up an unlikely friendship with Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt,) the loser in high school, who was brutalized in a mistaken hate crime. “Oh you’re hate crime guy!” Mavis exclaims, seeing Matt’s crutch.
“Technically it wasn’t a hate crime, since I’m not gay,” Matt replies. And thus begins a beautifully crippled friendship… Could it lead to romance? Who knows! From thereon, the audience is forced to watch Mavis misunderstand obvious “fuck-off” signs from Slade, and fall further into her narcissistic fantasy that she is the be all, end all of this man’s life. The first half of the film is enjoyable enough, but with the introduction of Mavis’ parents, the character is humanized in a way that renders her comedic craze stagnant. Her actions don’t just affect her. This is a community. A small one. And she’s hurting every person in it. Why?
With a resume including, “Juno,” “Thank You For Smoking,” and “Up in the Air,” Reitman has always been able to sensitize the apathetic. His movies are stylish and fun to watch. “Young Adult,” is shot in such gray bleariness, that the stand out scene in the movie, is the opening credits played over the inside of a working tape deck. The script, by “Juno” scribe, Diablo Cody, is full of catchy dialogue, but the story itself is comparable to a young adult novel. It’s immature, predictable, and lacks a solid ending.
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