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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Charlize Theron
Patrick Wilson
Patton Oswalt
Elizabeth Reaser.
Directors
Jason Reitman.
Screenwriters
Diablo Cody.
Running Time
93 minutes

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Young Adult
Despicable her


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Plot
Messed-up Mavis Gary (Theron), divorced, alcoholic author of adolescent fiction, heads for her home town hellbent on reclaiming ex-boyfriend Buddy (Wilson) from his inconvenient wife and newborn baby. Mavis' reputation as the beautiful mean girl at high school endures as she follows her self-absorbed path of destruction.


Review
Young Adult
The reunion of Jason Reitman, who hasn’t put a directorial foot wrong yet, with Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody proves that Juno was no fluke. And this definitely is not Juno 2, but a scabrously funny, tragi-comic portrait of a pathological queen bitch who won’t grow up.

What a piece of work is Mavis Gary. Mavis is the eternal, unrepentant mean girl and one of those people incapable of self-editing. She just opens her mouth and says whatever she’s thinking, like great boors of today who erroneously confuse being obnoxiously rude with being honest and genuine. Mavis is not that stupid, but she is heedless. Our better angels are gasping in horror or wincing in embarrassment while she says the most awful things, but our inner meanies are savouring remarks some of us might think but few of us would ever dare to utter.

Charlize Theron, in possibly her best performance yet, does a remarkable job with this potentially odious, decidedly delusional woman. While she won her Oscar for uglying up as Monster’s tormented serial killer Aileen Wuornos, her Mavis is getting slovenly but is still pretty outside — a knockout when she meticulously dolls up for a date with a mani-pedi, maquillage and dress-to-impress ritual as practised as a warrior’s preparations for battle. Inside she’s in a depressed, slobbish decline she can’t acknowledge, even as we see her unconscious hair-twiddling tic is making scabby bald patches in her scalp. We first see Mavis sprawled prostrate on the morning after the night before, flat out where she obviously fell down drunk. She’s hopelessly late with what is to be the last in a past-it series of girlie novels, and she’s indifferent to the needs of her itsy dog Dolce, who is required only fitfully as an accessory. And then her email delivers a new-baby announcement that energises her with purpose. She will rescue the old love of her life (an endearingly innocent, easygoing Patrick Wilson) from the domesticity into which he has contentedly settled.

The entire ensemble is spot-on, from the women who knew Mavis in her horrid high-school heyday to her uneasy parents. Comedian Patton Oswalt delivers a breakout turn as the classmate Mavis never noticed, a sardonic, scarred soul beaten and left permanently disabled by the kind of boys Mavis hung out with and the only one to whom she can turn now (for his garage-brewed bourbon more than his pointed insights).

Some of the choicest moments are Mavis’ solo but hardly soul-searching scenes, like her solitary road trip as she zooms from Minneapolis to the burg of Mercury, rather like the Wicked Witch Of The West in her grim determination but caterwauling along to the ’90s mix tape erstwhile beau Buddy once made her. Theron’s face is an encyclopaedia of trapped-in-dolescence reactions, from giddy rapture to the “who just passed gas?” grimace of distaste. Then there are the moments she spares to work on her trashy teen opus, nonchalantly eavesdropping on gabbing girls in fast food joints for on-point titbits. What parallels there are between Mavis and Diablo Cody, also a Minnesota girl, is anybody’s guess, but Cody’s facility with real-sounding dialogue suggests she’s all ears to other people’s conversations herself. It’s a performance that easily could have been pathetic, bathetic or simply annoying, but Theron is so unbridled and yet so perfectly nuanced — and Reitman’s direction so direct and so tightly calibrated between the blackly comic and the seriously sad — you can’t have enough of her. At a safe remove.


Verdict
Smart, honest, sickeningly funny and supremely well judged in the writing, direction and acting.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Young Adult
Empire Star Rating

"Sometimes in order to heal... a few people have to get hurt"

Emotionally speaking, Young Adult goes where few other films dare. So, while this isn't quite as good as Jason Reitman's previous efforts, it is certainly worth a look. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 04:47, 07 November 2013 | Report This Post


Young Adult

If you can get past the slow pacing and Reitman's lack of grace, Charlize Theron will make if all worth it in this hilarious and amazingly well-acted peek at the honest mind of our high school would-be's.  ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 20:52, 01 September 2012 | Report This Post


Could be a future classic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gerard Lough at 22:12, 23 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: liked it

Excellent film with a sensational turn from Charlize. She is so full of loathing for practically everyone, herself included and some of her actions & conversations are difficult to watch at times. It's blackly funny throughout and herself and Patton Oswalt have a great time with their scenes together. As mentioned earlier in the thread it's a rare thing for such a detestable character to be front and centre of a mainstream film and it's hard to think of anyone but Theron pulling it off. Hop... More

Posted by mackey at 13:58, 07 March 2012 | Report This Post


liked it

Theron was great. Although, you don't really notice how great until about 40 minutes in. The fat guy mate with a crutch was excellent to. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 19:55, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Young Adult

L: horribleives L: adambatman82 L: horribleives I was mildly intrigued before but this sentence alone puts it into the 'must-see' category. eah, it's lead character is ground in the 90's, and spends much of the time listening to a mix tape from her youth, the lead track of which is ceptalmost like the films theme, such is the manner in which it repeatedly pops up. The Muzak is great too, interpretations of Beck, Faith No More and Pearl Jam all feature. nterestingl... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 13:44, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Young Adult

L: adambatman82 L: horribleives I was mildly intrigued before but this sentence alone puts it into the 'must-see' category. eah, it's lead character is ground in the 90's, and spends much of the time listening to a mix tape from her youth, the lead track of which is ceptalmost like the films theme, such is the manner in which it repeatedly pops up. The Muzak is great too, interpretations of Beck, Faith No More and Pearl Jam all feature. nterestingly, the lyrics deal with g... More

Posted by horribleives at 13:27, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Young Adult

L: horribleives I was mildly intrigued before but this sentence alone puts it into the 'must-see' category. eah, it's lead character is ground in the 90's, and spends much of the time listening to a mix tape from her youth, the lead track of which is The Concept. It's almost like the films theme, such is the manner in which it repeatedly pops up. The Muzak is great too, interpretations of Beck, Faith No More and Pearl Jam all feature. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 12:19, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Young Adult

L: adambatman82 I really liked it. Even if our screening was interrupted by one grumpy bastard that actually shouted at everyone else for laughing too much at the film! Theron is great (and I'm not a fan at all), Oswalt was fantastic, and I really loved the overall tone of the film (I haven't seen such a truly despicable person presented as such for quite a long time) and am in agreeance with the Empire review when they say that the balance of the piece is really well judged. y loved t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wombathog at 12:17, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Young Adult

L: adambatman82 I really liked it. Even if our screening was interrupted by one grumpy bastard that actually shouted at everyone else for laughing too much at the film! Theron is great (and I'm not a fan at all), Oswalt was fantastic, and I really loved the overall tone of the film (I haven't seen such a truly despicable person presented as such for quite a long time) and am in agreeance with the Empire review when they say that the balance of the piece is really well judged. I really ... More

Posted by horribleives at 12:15, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Young Adult

I really liked it. Even if our screening was interrupted by one grumpy bastard that actually shouted at everyone else for laughing too much at the film! Theron is great (and I'm not a fan at all), Oswalt was fantastic, and I really loved the overall tone of the film (I haven't seen such a truly despicable person presented as such for quite a long time) and am in agreeance with the Empire review when they say that the balance of the piece is really well judged. I really loved the score too, espe... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 11:39, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


Another baffling Emprie review

Terrible. Not funny enough to be a straight up comedy, certainly not "sickenly funny" and not smart, dark or well written enough to make you care for the pathetic main character. In the end just bland and boring. I agree it is "seriously sad", sad that Jason Reitman now has this blemish on his so far perfect directing record. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Y0gi at 09:23, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


Another baffling Empire review

Terrible. Not funny enough to be a straight up comedy, certainly not "sickenly funny" and not smart, dark or well written enough to make you care for the pathetic main character. In the end just bland and boring. I agree it is "seriously sad", sad that Jason Reitman now has this blemish on his so far perfect directing record. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Y0gi at 09:23, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


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