Young Adult (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jason Reitman|
|Written by||Diablo Cody|
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Edited by||Dana E. Glauberman|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$22.9 million|
Young Adult is a 2011 American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman, from a screenplay written by Diablo Cody, and starring Charlize Theron. Reitman and Cody worked together previously on Juno (2007). Young Adult began a limited release on December 9, 2011, before expanding to a wide release on December 16, 2011. It received generally positive reviews from critics, and Theron earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a divorced, alcoholic 37-year-old ghost writer of a series of young adult novels, who is on deadline with her editor to finish the last book of the soon-to-be-cancelled series. Mavis receives an e-mail with a picture of the newborn daughter of her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser). Believing this to be a sign she and Buddy are meant to be together, Mavis leaves Minneapolis and returns to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, to reclaim her life with Buddy, under the pretext of overseeing a real estate deal.
Upon arriving after listening to "The Concept" by Teenage Fanclub on repeat from an old mixtape Buddy gave her in high school, Mavis arranges to meet him the next day at a local sports bar, for old times' sake. In the interim, she goes alone to a different bar, Woody's. There she reconnects with a former classmate she barely remembers, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), who became disabled after being beaten by jocks who erroneously assumed he was gay. Matt tells Mavis that her plan to destroy Buddy's marriage is irrational and selfish, but she ignores him.
The following day, Mavis meets Buddy at the sports bar, where they run into Matt, the bar's bookkeeper. On their way out, Buddy invites Mavis to a performance of Beth's "mom rock band". In the interim, Mavis spends another night getting drunk with Matt, who distills homemade bourbon in the garage of the house he shares with his sister Sandra. When Mavis attends the concert of Beth's band, the other moms are resentful of Mavis, whom they remember as the "psychotic prom queen bitch". When Beth's band performs, the lead singer dedicates their opening song to Buddy from Beth; much to Mavis's dismay, it is "The Concept".
Beth wants to stay out longer, so Mavis offers to drive the drunk Buddy home. On the lawn they share a kiss that is quickly broken up when the babysitter opens the front door to greet them. The next day, after an awkward encounter with her parents, Mavis is invited to Buddy's daughter's naming ceremony. She later goes out drinking with Matt again, during which Matt tells Mavis to grow up. The following day, Mavis attends the party, where she declares her love for Buddy, but he rebuffs her. Everyone at the party is called out to the lawn to await a surprise Buddy has prepared for Beth. Mavis, who has been drinking at the party, collides with Beth, who accidentally spills punch on Mavis's dress. Mavis insults her, and in a profanity-laced tirade tearfully reveals she became pregnant with Buddy's baby years ago, but had a miscarriage after three months.
Buddy, who has been preparing a drum-set gift for Beth in the garage, opens the garage door and belatedly learns what has transpired. Mavis asks him why he invited her. He reveals it was Beth's idea, as she feels sorry for Mavis. Humiliated, Mavis leaves the party and visits Matt, where she breaks down in tears and, later, initiates sex. The following morning, while Matt sleeps, Mavis has coffee in the kitchen with Sandra, who still idolizes her. Mavis talks about needing to change herself, but Sandra says Mavis is better than the rest of Mercury and should not change. Mavis says she agrees, and prepares to return to Minneapolis. Sandra asks to go with her but Mavis declines and leaves alone.
In a diner on her way home, Mavis writes the last chapter of the book, in which the main character graduates high school, quickly leaves her past behind and looks forward to the future. Afterward, in the parking lot, Mavis contemplates her damaged car, still crumpled from an earlier incident during which she was driving it drunk.
- Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary
- Patton Oswalt as Matt Freehauf
- Patrick Wilson as Buddy Slade
- Elizabeth Reaser as Beth Slade
- Collette Wolfe as Sandra Freehauf
- Hettienne Park as Vicki Robek
- Jill Eikenberry as Hedda Gary
- Mary Beth Hurt as Jan
- Louisa Krause as Hotel Clerk
- J. K. Simmons as Mavis' Boss (voice only)
Screenwriter Diablo Cody said the genesis of the film came from her encounters with the press:
This common question I would get at Q&As or press junkets or what-have-you was: "Why are you so fixated on [movies about] adolescents?" [I began wondering:] Am I stunted somehow? And so as I thought about my own life, I thought, "Gosh, that would be a great character—a woman in her 30s who writes young-adult fiction and does in fact cling to deluded teenage fantasies in her real life, and is obsessed with recreating her teenage years come hell or high water."
Writing a spec script, she sent drafts to her friend and Juno director, Jason Reitman, to critique. When the production of Labor Day, a film Reitman had been preparing, was pushed to 2012, a window developed during which he could direct Cody's script, which was shot on a $12 million budget in 30 days. The movie's location shooting was in Minnesota, while the bulk of the movie, set in the fictional town of Mercury, was shot north of New York City in the towns of White Plains, Nanuet, New City, Tappan, Ardsley, and Port Chester, and in the Long Island towns of Garden City and Massapequa Park, the last of which included Woody's Village Saloon. A few days were also shot on a soundstage at JC Studios in Brooklyn.
Following Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson's casting, Patton Oswalt was signed after doing a table read-through of the script at Reitman's house. Oswalt said that because his character, Matt Freehauf, had been badly beaten as a teen and was required to walk with a brace, he consulted with both an acting coach and a physical therapist to prepare for the role: "I just wanted less and less to have to think about so I could be more present in the scenes with Charlize. She's a really instinctual actor and I really didn't want to be sitting there with eight other thoughts on my head while she's just rolling with it."
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 81% based on 191 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Despite its somewhat dour approach, Young Adult is a funny and ultimately radical no-holds-barred examination of prolonged adolescence, thanks largely to a convincing performance by Charlize Theron." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, writing, "After I left the screening of Young Adult, my thoughts were mixed. With Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air, Jason Reitman has an incredible track record. Those films were all so rewarding. The character of Mavis makes Young Adult tricky to process. As I absorbed it, I realized what a fearless character study it is. That sometimes it's funny doesn't hurt." Kyle Buchanan of Vulture called Mavis "a woman that dares the audience to dislike her", but Maureen Johnson of the Huffington Post stated that "Mavis Gary is mentally ill. (...) Mavis suffers from depression, alcoholism, and trichotillomania (obsessive hair pulling)."
Tom Long of The Detroit News wrote, "Young Adult may be the year's most engaging feel-bad movie". A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film, writing, "Shorter than a bad blind date and as sour as a vinegar Popsicle, Young Adult shrouds its brilliant, brave and breathtakingly cynical heart in the superficial blandness of commercial comedy." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "In this tale of stunted development, Theron is a comic force of nature, giving her character considerable density and humanity despite her monstrous aspects. And Patton Oswalt deserves cheers as Matt, a former classmate who pops Mavis' delusions with soul-crushing honesty. His dark duet with Theron is funny, touching and vital. But fair warning: The laughs in Young Adult leave bruises." Richard Roeper awarded the film an A grade, stating "Charlize Theron delivers one of the most impressive performances of the year".
The film appeared on many critics' lists of the best films of 2011.
Awards and nominations
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- "Oswalt Digs Deep for Serious Turn in 'Young Adult'". The Canadian Press wire service via CTV.ca. November 28, 2011. Archived from the original on November 30, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
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- Sep. 8, 2012 (2011-12-16). "Review: 'Young Adult' offers cruelly mature fun". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
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