Review: Young Adult (2011)


Directed by: Jason Reitman | 94 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe, Jill Eikenberry, Richard Bekins, Mary Beth Hurt, Kate Nowlin, Jenny Dare Paulin, Rebecca Hart

At first glance, “Young Adult” doesn’t seem much more than just another romantic comedy. The film tells the story of Mavis (Charlize Theron), a woman in her late thirties who still lives the lifestyle of an adolescent. She lives in Minneapolis and writes teenage books. Unfortunately, her book series is not going too well, people are a bit tired of it. In addition, she has just had a failed marriage. To give her (love) life a new impetus, Mavis decides to go back to her small, quiet hometown of Mercury and search for the flame of her teenage years, the now happily married and just-fathered Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) .

So far nothing new under the sun. Fortunately, it soon becomes apparent that “Young Adult” has much more to offer than a simple story and a few fun jokes. Director Jason Reitman already proved in the past with the film “Juno” (2007) that he knows how to make a good comedy. And although “Juno” is a bit more serious and dramatic, Jason Reitman manages to reach a high level again with “Young Adult”. It is in particular the character of Mavis that sticks. The way she fights aging and still continues to see herself as the hugely popular girl she was in high school certainly makes for some fun scenes. She openly admits to being addicted to alcohol and is wonderfully (misplaced) arrogant. Although Mavis gets the blood from under everyone’s nails in the film, the makers still managed to make sure that you as a viewer feel connected to her. She’s funny, endearingly desperate, and ultimately a bit pathetic too, which makes it easy to feel sympathy for her.

In addition, “Young Adult” does not try to force anything. There are (almost) no superfluous scenes in it and the supporting roles are well filled in. For example, in Mercury, Mavis quickly bumps into one well-known person from high school after another, but one by one, no one is really waiting for her return. The biggest supporting role is for Matt (Patton Oswalt). He had a rather traumatic experience in high school and will walk on crutches for the rest of his life. The somewhat clumsy Matt is a welcome addition, and the way he tries to point out to Mavis the meaninglessness of her actions (and the way Mavis continues to refuse to see it herself) certainly delivers some nice moments.

Although the danger of overly large clichés lurks throughout the film, this danger is also nicely avoided. Where other similar films (think of ‘Bad Teacher’ where Cameron Diaz also tries to seduce the man of her dreams at all costs) often make the mistake of working towards a clichéd ending, this falls very much in ‘Young Adult’ along. The film remains refreshing and above all just funny from start to finish. “Young Adult” is therefore a great comedy that is more than worthwhile for any audience.