March 31, 2012

Young Adult Review

Have you heard about the movie Young Adult? You may not have, it seemed to fly under the radar for the most part. I'm not sure why. It stars Charlize Theron and is by the same dude that made Juno and Up In The Air.

It is essentially a story about a crazy person. Not so much crazy as delusional I guess. The plot has its roots in a familiar premise. The pretty girl from high school went out and made it in the big city and now she is returning to her small-town origins. The notable difference in Young Adult is that she actually hasn't made it big. She hasn't even made it out of the state. It is only in her mind that she has done anything with her life.

If I were to try to sell you on watching Young Adult I'm not sure how I would do it. I wanted to see it because I've liked what Jason Reitman has done in the past. I
wasn't jumping out of my shoes to see this one, but I heard a lot of good things about it from critics after it initially came out. It went to the top of the list for when the dvd came out, which happened a couple weeks ago. There is something interesting about the way Reitman approaches the character of Mavis Gary. It is almost satisfying to see her be the way she is. It is an over-exaggerated version of how we imagine any successful classmate from high school really is behind the veneer of happiness. However, that alone is not enough to make this film "good".

Charlize Theron is really good in this film. She makes the absolutely insane Mavis Gary seem plausible. There are some really awkward moments that she plays really well. But then alongside her you have Patton Oswalt. I'm not totally sure why his character is there in the first place. Then he plays him all Patton Oswalty and it just didn't work for me in this movie. I wish there were something more interesting done with that relationship. It is a primary plot line that feels empty. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I need to watch it again, but I did not like that character.

Young Adult started out pretty good. The set-up was good. I was on board. There is this long stretch in the middle (most of the Oswalt stuff) that was not so great. There are moments in there that move forward the entire plot, but there also seems to be a lot of filler. The film was slowly losing me. The ending comes back strong with a few great scenes that make the entire film.

Now that I think about it the movie as a whole felt uneven. There are scenes dispersed throughout that are compelling and create a narrative that you want to see. But alongside those scenes are other scenes that seem extraneous. The good ones make the movie worth watching for sure, but the other stuff was frustrating. Like I said before, I feel like I missed out on half the story they were trying to tell. Well, I didn't miss out on it as much as I didn't care about it, and didn't want to see it. Still, seeing Charlize Theron as a former prom-queen living out her sad delusional life is worth seeing. There is a moment of sympathy towards the end that works extremely well. Then it is taken away very quickly and makes you hate her even more by the very end. It was effective story telling and character development with her. Everything else was not so great.

I say see it. The heightened reality of the film is absurd at times, but Charlize plays it well and makes it work. The story might seem to spin its wheels at times, but when it is moving forward it is at least going in an interesting direction.

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