Monthly Archives: March 2012

Young Adult

And, I’m back. I haven’t really seen many movies lately and I decided to scrap my draft about the Oscars after it sat untouched for weeks.
 Frankly, the show was just like any other and Billy Crystal didn’t help. I think the winners were deserving and the so called “losers” were films and actors that did not make the list of nominees anyway.
Luckily, there is a new year of movies ahead. I decided on an at-home screening last night after finding myself with nothing to do and a whole host of choices available at the press of a button. I went with Young Adult, the Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman project starring Charlize Theron as a teen fiction writer living in Minneapolis. Theron’s character, Mavis Gary, grew up in a fictional small town of Mercury, Minnesota and decides it’s time to go back to see if what she really needs in life is there — namely her high school ex-boyfriend Buddy Slade.
The impetus for the visit is a birth announcement for Slade’s daughter with his wife, who he also met at the Mercury high school. Mavis, meanwhile, is divorced and being hounded by her editor for more book chapters of a series with a dying readership.
In general, Young Adult is much less of a comedy that I thought it would be after learning the post-high school struggles of the main characters. The writing had enough wit, however, to keep the film from being totally depressing and the selected cast fit their roles well. Theron, a prom-queen type in high school, played the “beauty is only skin deep” persona with just the right mix of delusion and — well — a drinking problem.
The main cast is rounded out by Patton Oswalt as the nerdy guy from high school who was the victim of a hate crime and Patrick Wilson as Buddy Slade. All the characters, except for Mavis, still live in the fictional city of Mercury. Even though she doesn’t live there, Mavis is part of the common thread of not having changed much since high school and she is especially still living with the scars of her teenage years.
I liked this film and was glad the dialogue wasn’t quite as over the top as Juno — also written by Diablo Cody. I know, I know it is a good movie and she deserves credit for a solid story, but something about the verbal interaction between the characters in Juno wasn’t authentic. It is in Young Adult, however. My only complaint was that I was in the mood for a pick-me-up when I turned on Young Adult, and it is not that at all. However it is still a smart, well-written film that just about everyone can relate to. (When have you not been in a state where chugging Diet Coke first thing in the morning feels about right?)
If you need another suggestion of a title to watch at home, I highly recommend Roman Polanski’s Carnage, due out on DVD March 20. Based on a play, Carnage is translated to the movie screen with a small set and cast — Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly. The two couples’ sons get into a fight at school and the adults decide to meet at the home of Penelope and Michael Longstreet (Foster and Reilly) to come up with a disciplinary solution. It soon turns out that the spat on the school playground is not the issue to be resolved, rather the intricacies of the two couples’ psyche and personal problems. This type of movie could have been very boring or gone way over the top in an attempt to entertain audiences but, thankfully, it is neither of those things.
Instead Polanski and the cast deliver a glimpse into the life of four parents — even on a fictional level — that I couldn’t look away from for a second. They also deliver a film that is close as possible to watching a play, highlighting the sense for viewers that you are peeking in on these couples’ personal lives from outside — much like Rear Window. So, there you have it. Go out and enjoy the nice weather this week and when the sun goes down watch one of these movies. It’s good to be back!