Young Adult reviews

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Re: Young Adult reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:18 am

I don't think the overall film is particularly strong but the performances of Theron and Oswwalt are among the year's best. What I especially liked about the writing is that Cody does not do fall for the standard Hollywood trick of having Theron wise up and turn nice in the end. She is as much a conceited bitch at the end as she is at the beginning. Theron's performacne is probably the bes thing she's done to date. Had she not already won an Oscar I think she might have had more of a presence at 2011's year's end honors. She certainly should have been on Oscar's short list over Rooney Mara, who I finally got to see in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Contrary to expectations, I liked the film better than the Swedish version, but peferred Noomi Rapace's take on Lisbeth to Mara's.

Oswalt certainly should have been nominated over Jonah Hill, but his omission from the Supporting Actor list is not as much of a head-scratcher as Albert Brooks' was.

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Re: Young Adult reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:17 pm

While I can agree that Theron and Oswalt made major contributions to this effort, I can't agree on the overall quality of the film, which I find a real comedown for both Cody and Reitman. This is a movie where the trailer tells you everything, and not for the standard Hollywood "they give away too much" reason. All the trailer does is give you the basic premise. Unhappily, that basic premise -- Theron comes back to her home town to (delusionally) attempt to win back her married-with-new-child former boyfriend -- is all there is to the movie. In a better, more developed film, Theron's character would have made the trip, made an initial attempt, found herself blocked, adjusted to circumstance and tried another route...so on and so on until the story played out. As is, her goal is straight-line through the entire movie -- she does one (delusional) thing without variation -- and, except for the modestly-moving late reveal of her motivation, there are no narrative developments of any interest (the relationship with Oswalt, certainly the best thing about the movie, is strictly sidebar). This makes for an awfully thin spine for a full-length film, even one running under 90 minutes.

I also found the Patrick Wilson character totally opaque. I don't know if it's Cody's writing or his playing, but I found nothing in how he made the late phone invitation that made credible his later claim; and his reaction to the conveniently-interrupted kiss was completely blank.

I really like Cody's work on United Stares of Tara, but this was barely an idea, and the two strong (in Theron's case bravely unapologetic) performances can't fully mask that.

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Re: Young Adult reviews

Postby flipp525 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:20 pm

After thinking about this film some days later...

Charlize completely elevated the material she was handed here. There was a clear internal struggle telegraphed on the screen with (but mostly without) dialogue: between her and her former self, her parents, her ex, etc. What is starting to annoy me about the Oscars is that if you're not playing a historical figure (Streep, Williams) or an inspirational character (Davis), you have to fight and claw your way to a place in the line-up. Theron creates a three-dimensional, complicated "villainess" without relying on the crutches of her competitors or even her own Oscar-winning performance in Monster.
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."

-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Re: Young Adult reviews

Postby flipp525 » Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:31 am

I saw Young Adult last night after work and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It's sharp, clever (without being too Diablo Cody "clever"); there's no tired, boring, predictable, full-circle redemption arc which was so utterly refreshing. Just a character being illuminated in a way that felt fresh and connected to something almost everyone can relate to--the high school experience. The overall conceit of a totally debaucherous (possibly even sociopathic) YA author writing Sweet Valley High-style novels for teenagers, returning home to claim the married man she thinks she deserves lends for a deliciously swift film.

Diablo Cody must've kind of gotten over herself or something because the screenplay is as far removed from Juno as it could possibly be and far less murky in its transitions. Even the 11th hour revelation seemed appropriate when set against everything we'd already learned about the central characters. The characters in the film seemed like they could be real people, not simply wise-cracking mouth-pieces spouting overly clever quips at every turn and sitting in kitschy lawn furniture. Jill Eikenberry (where the heck has she been?) and that old, perhaps once handsome, fossil playing Mavis' mom and dad seemed to be the only characters that could've been in Juno. They were a little bit 2D.

Mavis Gray's (Charlize Theron) complete inability to accept the reality of her life and the fruitlessness of her quest for love is fascinating to watch. The suburban sprawl of small town Minnesota overpopulated with KFC, Taco Bell and sports bars, seems more laughable, than oppressive and yet this is also the location where Mavis believes she was at her most powerful. It's interesting to watch her negotiate her way through a world that she automatically assumes she's too good for now. Theron inhabits this character in a way that feels very natural. She's especially unselfconscious about how truly awful Mavis can be to the people around her. Patton Oswalt is extremely affecting as Mavis' former classmate and becomes the voice of reason, without ever coming off as superior. The chemistry between the two of them successfully lifts the film from its potential pitfalls of dreariness and grounds it. I'm surprised that both performers aren't showing up on more year-end best lists (Oswalt should be getting all the spots that seem to be going to Jonah Hill). I would love to see them both recognized for their work here, especially Oswalt.

Young Adult had a lot to say about loneliness. About expectations for life that have not been met. About lives where digital devices and trash TV keep us company and are never turned off. About the rituals that make us feel better -- drinking. Texting, even if it is to no one. Elaborate pampering and beauty methods where we close our eyes to be stroked and touched and healed.

Was this really deemed, as Sabin previously stated, a lemon? If so, bring them on by the bushel.
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."



-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Re: Young Adult reviews

Postby mayukh » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:29 pm

VAGUE MINI-SPOILERS AHEAD: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK














Impressed with this. It's a very well-done piece of work, though I don't want to overstate its achievements. I didn't "get it" about Up in the Air – I thought it was particularly unsubtle, going to great lengths to show Clooney's inability to connect to other humans; the cast was unevenly directed; and the stylistic vocabulary Reitman used (ie tidy, fast-paced editing and quick jump cuts to establish Clooney's hectic jet-setting lifestyle) absolutely lacking in imagination. (I felt better about Juno – beyond the contrivances Reitman had a genuine and compassionate understanding of his characters)

Here, Cody's script (considerably less problematic than Juno's) calls for a very intelligent, lucid comic actress to pull off this initially unsympathetic character. Charlize Theron has it in spades. She's very quick and possesses a surprising subtlety, and she makes her character's vulnerability affecting from the film's onset. It's a particular testament to her talents, and to Reitman's direction, that the surprising "reveal" at the baby-naming ceremony seems less a dramatic contrivance than a genuine, honest explanation of her character's selfishness. Lastly, the film's ending does not provide its character easy redemption. Rather than implying that Theron's character is somehow morally "corrected" or changed by the events in her small-town return, Reitman hints that she still remains relatively vain, self-obsessed, and damaged in spite of it. Because Olsen no longer seems to be a possibility right now, I may be rooting for Theron in this year's race (if she gets in). Reitman really understands this character and she is a fascinating one.

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Re: Young Adult reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:04 pm

Hollywood Reporter

Young Adult: Film Review
12:00 PM PST 12/4/2011 by Todd McCarthy

More like a snapshot that a full canvas, the tart, abrasive character study features strong performances from Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt.

Director Jason Reitman reunites with "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody in well acted, but narrowly conceived story about a deluded author of teen novels who plots to win back her high school boyfriend.

A tart, abrasive character study of a seriously messed up writer who pens a twisted new episode to her own life, the pungent Young Adult feels like a chapter in what by rights should be a longer film or novel. As if deliberately setting out to make something less warm and friendly than his genial first three features, Jason Reitman reunites here with his Juno cohort Diablo Cody on a smartly observed, well acted but narrowly conceived story about a deluded author of teen novels who plots to win back her high school boyfriend, who's now a happily married dad.

Charlize Theron on Playing a 'Bitch' in 'Young Adult' (Video)Paramount's Jason Reitman-Directed 'Young Adult' First Look (Exclusive)VIDEO: Young Adult: Trailer Deftly done in every respect, this Paramount release, which oddly bypassed the fall festival circuit, is much closer in feel to an indie-style film than to a major studio production, making it a curious choice for a Christmas launch. Okay commercial results look likely.

Entirely avoiding the sort of trademark showy dialogue that made her name on Juno, Cody most distinguishes herself here by creating two unusual characters of a kind rarely seen front and center in a mainstream film. The first is Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a stunning woman who will be 40 before long, still hasn't gotten her life together and would be considered, by most reckonings, a condescending, first-class bitch.

Living alone in a messy high-rise apartment in downtown Minneapolis, Mavis has been ghostwriting entries for an adolescent novel series for years, although this looks to be winding down. She's a divorcee who can get guys when she wants but, when the excuse arrives to return to her small Minnesota hometown, she concocts a scheme to reclaim the glory that was hers as a teenager by luring away her high school boyfriend, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), no matter that the first time she sees him on her visit, he's got a breast milk pump in hand.

Dolled up or not, Mavis is still a knockout, perceived by locals as a glamorous success who hasn't changed at all since school days. She loathes the banality of the town and part of the early-stage humor stems from the dressed-to-kill Mavis having to frequent chicken-and-ribs-type sports bar restaurants, the best the town has to offer. Despite her relative worldliness, Mavis is still an emotionally immature adolescent, with teenage priorities, prejudices and fantasies.

The second character of note, even more unusual, is Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), a former high school classmate to whom she says, upon encountering him in a bar, “You're the hate crime guy!” A caustic sad sack with a chip on his shoulder as large as Mavis' sense of superiority, Matt relates how he was bullied and ultimately beaten up and left for dead by a bunch of jocks because they thought he was gay. The irony, he says, is that he isn't gay but, since then, he hasn't been good for much of anything, in that he's permanently crippled and bent out of shape, physically and mentally.

Here, then, are the polar opposites of the high school experience, the babe with the highest self-esteem and the shlub with the lowest, both of whom remain emotionally stunted, basically where they were 20 years before. Such characters -- the snooty mean queen and the razzed geek -- are staples of teen pictures but are rarely seen as older people still carrying the same baggage. These two had nothing in common back then but now can really talk because they get one another and are willing to be frank; he calls her on her b.s. and she accuses him of using his disabilities as an excuse for doing nothing. Their scenes together are the film's best, with Theron and Oswalt, who have very different tempi and temperatures as performers, parrying and thrusting with great expertise.

The way Mavis behaves with Buddy, somebody should dub her shameless Mavis. Meeting his nice wife Beth (Elisabeth Reaser), Mavis goes on about how she and Buddy used to be together; alone with him, she recalls how great things were in the old days and acts as though there's no reason why they shouldn't pick up where they left off. Buddy just sort of smiles uncomfortably through it all to be nice, which only leaves the door wider open for Mavis to keep pushing her increasingly misguided agenda.

Aggravating an already bad situation is her alcoholism. “Do you want to get loaded or something?”

Mavis demands of Matt after one of her “dates” with Buddy, which is par for the course with her. There have undoubtedly been many times in the past when men have been very happy to hear her say something like this and there's no question she's lively, provocative company when she's had a couple of belts. But Mavis doesn't know when to stop, so it's only after she completely embarrasses herself in a petulant, self-pitying public rant, that she has something like an epiphany that might help point the way for her to move forward.

On a scene-by-scene basis, Young Adult entirely engages with its smart exchanges between characters who are well equipped with rough edges and raw nerves. Mavis and Matt undergo some key life changes as well, providing some dramatic movement. But the plot, such as it is, has a very short arc and almost exclusively consists of charting Mavis's strategy for luring Buddy back; there are no subplots or side excursions, just the surprising bonding that occurs between Mavis and Matt. The result is an impression of vibrant character sketches rather than of full-bodied drama with depth and complexity, of two characters, specifically, who could easily warrant far more extensive treatment, so acutely and specifically drawn are they.

Of the supporting characters, the only particularly interesting one is Matt's sister Sandra (a very good Collette Wolfe), a plain woman who, living with her brother, has no life, has always idolized Mavis and inadvertently makes some comments that alter the course of things.

Jumping into the deep end with an essentially unlikeable character who is nonetheless compelling and sometimes great fun to watch, Theron is terrific. She makes Mavis' arrogance and certainty of her own allure not only convincing but enjoyable. When her behavior becomes pathetic and pitiable, however, there's no feeling of deserved comeuppance, just relief that going too far will finally provoke her to pull herself together.

Oswalt, the stand-up comic who was excellent in Big Fan two years back, excels again here, exposing just enough of Matt's life of hurt under his bracingly jaundiced gab.

Neither the script nor Wilson provides much insight into how Buddy really feels (or felt) about Mavis, a woman whose literary exercises and life experiences have blurred in ways quite likely helpful to neither. Young Adult, which has been directed with acute insight by Reitman with heightened attention to the way people behave when they're alone, is good as far as it goes, but it feels more like a snapshot that a full canvas, a weekend jaunt rather than a real journey.

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Young Adult reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:01 pm

Screen Daily/International

Young Adult
4 December, 2011 | By Mark Adams, chief film critic


Dir: Jason Reitman. US. 2011. 94mins


If Juno perfectly clicked in its portrayal of a sassy and smart teen, then Young Adult, the latest collaboration between director Ivan Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, hits the comedy sweetspot with its hilarious depiction of an adult on the verge of psychopathic depression. It also features an unstoppable lead performance from Charlize Theron that should see her in the running for a Best Actress nomination.

Young Adult is a mature and engaging offering from Cody and Reitman – and in Charlize Theron they have a lead actress who makes their film tick with unselfconscious energy and commitment.

Diablo’s Oscar-winning script for Juno was fresh, witty and oddly wise and perfectly complemented by Reitman’s assured direction. Their latest collaboration is a delightfully dark comedy that blends self-aware sophistication with good old-fashioned comedy of embarrassment. It’s a tough period to be opening this sort of quirky and individual film, but critical support and good word-out-mouth could help focus attention.

The driving force of the film is Theron’s no-holds-barred performance as alcoholic ghost-writer Mavis Gary, a 37 year-old in the midst of a slightly early mid-life crisis, living a seemingly friendless life in her relentlessly messy Minneapolis apartment.

For Mavis the high-point of her life was when she was a popular beauty at high school, and she vicariously re-lives her teen years through her ghost writing in a series of ‘Young Adult’ books titled Waverly Place, about high school kids, with narration of her book dialogue acting as an insight into her feelings about her adult life.

When she receives an e-mail baby announcement from her old flame Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) she decides to return to her hometown of Mercury, relive her glory days, and – with completely selfish devilment – win back Buddy. She packs her bags - and her Pomeranian, Dolce - and heads back to the ‘hick’ town that represents the best and worst of her life.

She is somewhat surprised to find Buddy a sloppily-dressed new dad who isn’t won over by her attempts at boozy seduction, but his apparent lack of interest – or certainly genial ambivalence toward her – only spurs her to more and more outrageous behaviour as she equates recapturing Buddy to reliving her glory days.

Often drunk and delusional, she finds an unlikely friend in old classmate Matt (Patton Oswalt), who she barely recalls but us aware of him because he was beaten by jock classmates while at school after being accused of being gay, and his own way is also stuck in his teens, shuffling around on crutches and tinkering with toys in his basement bedroom. Their relationship is beautifully written – sad, bitter and disarmingly honest as these two broken people (one physically and one emotionally) try and come to grips with their lives.

Diablo Cody’s dialogue is razor-sharp as always, and her strong sense of observation helps build up the picture of a flawed woman desperately trying to re-discover the time she was happy and popular. Perhaps her mission is shallow – though there are some sad revelations that help make her slightly more appealing – but it is acutely observed and often hilarious.

Young Adult is a mature and engaging offering from Cody and Reitman – and in Charlize Theron they have a lead actress who makes their film tick with unselfconscious energy and commitment.


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