‘Young Adult’: Me me me


People in Minnesota have this reputation for being “nice” that Diablo Cody seems determined to undermine – which she does in slashingly funny style in Jason Reitman’s “Young Adult,” opening in limited release Friday (12/9/11) before going wide on Dec. 16.

The film reteams the “Juno” duo with a script that’s less deliberately quirky – indeed, there’s very little that could be classified that way. Instead, Reitman and Cody tell the tale of a woman who, having zoned out for most of her adult life, decides that she can simply time-travel to her high-school years, cherry-pick a lost dream of grown-up life and transport it to the present. It’s all as simple as the cut-and-paste function on her computer.

Her name is Mavis Gary and, as played by Charlize Theron, she’s an uber-slacker who makes her living writing young-adult novels (think “Sweet Valley High” and the like) and her nights cruising for temporary company, from which she happily escapes in the morning.

Her dull, boxed-in life has one nagging intrusion: the editor who keeps bugging her for the overdue manuscript she owes her publisher. Then her computer is invaded by an email: an invitation to a shower for the new baby of her now-married high-school sweetheart, back in her small hometown.

So Mavis makes a young-adult decision: She’ll rewrite her life by swooping into that same little town unannounced, dazzle the guy (who she suddenly sees as the one that got away) and rescue him from what she assumes is his dead-end life.

In other words, she’s going to tempt a married guy with a new kid to run away with her. If she’s rescuing anyone, it’s herself – from the kind of life she’d never admit to anyone else.

Her hometown obviously has expanded, but in all the wrong ways. It’s the kind of Midwestern – make that American – burg that views growth as an influx of strip malls and the fast-food franchises, including the horror-graft special that Mavis refers to as a “KenTacoHut” (a combo KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut). Traveling with her tiny dog, she checks into a motel and calls that ex-: Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). Buddy, surprised to hear from her after so many years, agrees to meet at the local sports bar.

But Mavis first runs into Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), a high-school classmate whom she doesn’t remember but who obviously still harbors feelings (lust, resentment) for someone who obviously was an unattainable blonde goddess way back when. She’s still capable of pulling off that drop-dead, hands-off look these days, though it takes a bit more effort.

This review continues on my website.

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