Film Review: YOUNG ADULT

Directed by Jason Reitman
Written by Diablo Cody
Starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser

This is a gutsy movie. Gutsy and brave. The audience prepared to spend two hours and $12 bucks on an almost totally unlikable woman has to be small. And at Christmas, even smaller. But Cody, Reitman and Theron took no prisoners with this film. A few laughs here and there only served to make the film more authentic rather than easier on the palate.

PLOT: Mavis Gary was the high school prom queen in a rural Minnesota town circa 1990. Classmates admired her, but probably few liked her. She didn’t require that however as she cast her lot with the most desirable boy and did all the prom queen things. Girls like Mavis only required accolades not friends. But all that was over a long time ago, and she has cobbled out a living writing YA romance novels in Minneapolis.

When she hears her high school sweetheart (Wilson) is about to have a baby, she returns to her hometown in a misguided attempt to win him back. A classmate (Oswalt) whose suffering matches her own, serves both as a sounding board and buddy throughout. He is also the key to the audience’s tolerance of Mavis’ story. (I loved Oswalt in BIG FAN a few years back and he continues to impress here).

A lesser film would have Mavis learn her lesson. Instead the audience learns what that lesson is. It would have her classmates chastise her for all of the nasty things she surely did back then. Instead, they pity her for what she’s become. It would find a way for her to succeed with her career. Or even have her come to care about writing or about anything. It would have her parents or someone see that her problem stemmed from booze and intervene.

Because of the smart script and direction and two great performances, this movie worked for me. It worked even better a day later when I had time to digest its message more fully. Recommended.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in