Young Adult-Maddie Dickens


Young Adult: A Fictional Love Story

Young Adult features Charlize Theron, a woman who is just that: a young adult. She embarrasses herself at every turn, at least in the audience’s eyes, while she hopelessly searches to reconnect with her high school ex. She endlessly strives to find happiness away from her teenage-drama writing career, a sedentary, Kardashian-watching, and overall unhealthy lifestyle.

It’s almost hard to watch  as she idealizes the past in a feeble attempt at fixing her present situation. Her ex, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), sends a baby announcement that prompts Mavis to drive back to Mercury, Minnesota, still hopeful that their relationship can mend itself after her recent divorce despite his new family.

Her once popular Waverly Place series mirrors her own experience, as many scenes include voiceovers from Kendall’s drama-filled life. The “together” life she leads is a façade she puts up mainly for herself, but some elements of the front also figure into her interactions with other characters.

Matt (Patton Oswalt) is a fellow alum whose high school days were far less fortunate than Mavis’s , and his character helps the audience realize the full potential of Mavis’s selfishness and lack of concern for those around her. When the viewers are introduced to her parents, we come to understand how her she is unable to accept reality. It isn’t until the last few minutes of the film that she finds some clarity. Even this “solution” that she finds is discovered through twisted plot details that come across as confusing and disturbing.

Her alcoholism appears in the film often, escalating in her outbursts from failed expectations. The town residents, including Matt’s sister who obsessed over Mavis in high school, still put her on a pedestal. Their ignorance regarding her current situation only exacerbates her obsessive need to seem perfect. She perceives everything, including the climactic moment, as Buddy subtly “pursuing” her.

This Paramount Pictures film is directed and produced by Jason Reitman, who is also well known for his work on Juno. Dwelling on the past and the object of happiness is a major theme in Young Adult, which is also addressed in Juno through two teenagers’ accidental pregnancy. In this film, however, the teenager has become the adult but still acts as immature and naïve as a child.

Mavis’s constant primping is juxtaposed with her disheveled appearance while she’s alone. Charlize Theron is typically portrayed in a serious, strong female role which is contradicted heavily in this part. Having encountered negative feedback from others about the film, I went into it expecting a sub-par comedy with fair acting from Theron. I came out of the film unsure about the resolution and discontent with the message the film could have addressed. The end came about rather abruptly, however, the audience does come to see Mavis more clearly.

The New York Times upholds the belief that the Theron’s character is unlikable, but they also suggest the film “extends her a measure of sympathy.”

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9 Responses to Young Adult-Maddie Dickens

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I like your review of this film and how you gave excellent details about the plot to give the reader a good idea of what happens without giving anything away. I also liked how you fit in the information about the director and his work on “Juno,” tying it into this movie being a continuum of the themes. – Steph Albrecht

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I found this movie underwhelming myself, especially considering the director’s cannon of work. The only redeemable factors for me were the cast. I love Patton Oswalt, anytime, anyplace, anyfilm. If only the story itself could live up to this love.
    –A.P. Brothers

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Without seeing this movie I still really understood what it was about because of how well the review was written. Although the movie does not sound like something I would like I still think the review really does a great job. -Paul McBride

  4. mediaphiles says:

    Your insights about this film are thoughtful, and they give your readers an inside look at the character’s struggles. You used a lot of great details about the plot, and really made me want to go see this film!
    -Sam Yezerski

  5. mediaphiles says:

    Your review does a great job at explaining the plot and analyzing the internal struggles of the characters. I really enjoyed your observations of Mavis and how her actions speak for who she is. This movie is now on my watch list, well done!
    – Peyton Perea

  6. marymdalton says:

    I still like Jason Reitman’s first film, Thank You For Smoking, the best, but the young director has already assembled a string of (mostly) cynical and moderately edgy films by hitting the mark more often than he misses in Juno, Up In The Air, and now Young Adult.

    Although it earned Diablo Cody an Oscar, one of the things I disliked about Juno was the arch dialogue. It took me out of the film. This time, as Reitman and Cody team up again in Young Adult, the dialogue is less obtrusive, but the film will likely make viewers more uncomfortable than Juno ever could.

    Charlize Theron plays a newly-divorced fiction writer who returns to her small town in Minnesota intending to get back together with her high school boyfriend by breaking up his marriage even though he is a new father.

    Some of the conventions of the film play off of standard romantic comedy fare, but this film is anything but conventional. Ultimately, as the viewer comes to see the main character not as she sees herself but from the pained perspective of others who know her better, the film turns increasingly dark and complex.

    The result is a film that is painful but curiously satisfying because of the way it contrasts with commercial, Hollywood films.

  7. mediaphiles says:

    This review does a great job of giving understandable insight into the film without spoiling anything for the audience. Your review also does a good job of letting the reader know what to expect going into the movie, from a quick ending to a not-so-great message although still a potentially entertaining movie (if taken with a grain of salt).
    -Sam Cantor

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