Commentary

April 27, 2012

On DVD

Fly Over: ‘Young Adult’

Flawed writer searches for love in wrong places

by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
Young-Adult-Movie-Poster

Charlize Theron is tremendous as the gorgeous but deeply troubled antihero of “Young Adult,” a dark comedy with a hard edge by director Jason Reitman. The screenplay was written by Academy Award-winner Diablo Cody, but fans of “Juno” beware: this is no quirky, light-hearted comedy. Cody’s brutally honest script pulls no punches.

Although unsympathetic, Theron is riveting as lead character Mavis Gary, a divorced 37-year-old writer of young adult fiction in Minneapolis, and her compelling performance carries the film.

Near the beginning of the movie, Mavis is alone in her apartment where she lives with her lapdog, chugging Diet Coke from a 2-liter bottle; it’s her beverage of choice when not drinking alcohol. As Mavis sorts through e-mail on her Apple laptop, one catches her eye, and sticks in her craw. It’s an invitation from an ex-boyfriend’s new wife to celebrate the birth of their daughter.

The ex-boyfriend is Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), who Mavis had dated in high school but had not spoken to in years.

“Can you imagine still living in Mercury, trapped with a wife and a kid and some crappy job?” she asks a friend at lunch. “It’s like he’s a hostage.”

So having decided Buddy must be miserable, with her dog in tow she sets off to her small Minnesota hometown, where Buddy still lives, with hopes of rekindling their romance.

Once in town, she gets down to the business of attempting to seduce Buddy from his wife, played by the charming Elizabeth Reaser. Along the way Mavis encounters a former classmate of theirs, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt). Oswalt, an accomplished stand-up comedian, is excellent and understated in the role of Matt, a paunchy, good-natured, self-described “geek” who makes homemade bourbon in his garage. He walks with a crutch, the result of a vicious attack many years before that has left him with more than just physical scars.

It is Matt’s story and Mavis’s treatment of him that is the dark heart of the movie.

In between drinking binges and awkward encounters with former classmates (and estranged family members), Mavis is writing the last installment in a “Sweet Valley High” type young adult fiction series for which she is an uncredited ghostwriter. She lives vicariously through her fictional alter-ego, Kendal Strickland, as the character navigates circumstances resembling Mavis’s own.

It is through this narrative that we see the true extent of her narcissism. The amoral, uninhibited Mavis more closely resembles a character from a Bret Easton Ellis novel than one from the “Sweet Valley High” world of Francine Pascal she attempts to recreate.

As Mavis pushes harder to win back Buddy, things begin to spiral out of control.

Although the film is a solid dark comedy, it doesn’t have as many cringe-inducing moments as some of the classics of the genre, such as Neil LaBute’s “In the Company of Men,” or Peter Berg’s “Very Bad Things.” Still, though, there’s plenty here to laugh and wince at.

Ultimately, the movie is a character study of a woman grappling with her own flaws and compulsive behavior. While Mavis may sometimes fail in that effort, the film certainly succeeds.    

“Young Adult” is rated R for language and adult situations.



About the Author

Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
Tristan Hinderliter is a full-time Public Affairs Officer and part-time pop culture critic. When he's not listening to the Adam Carolla Podcast, he's usually watching movies. His favorite directors include David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Alexander Payne.


All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Every Airman has a voice

While Gen. Mark Welsh III was here at Luke Air Force Base, he discussed the importance of listening to your young Airmen, and making sure they feel empowered to have open dialogue and share ideas within their chain of command. As the NCO in charge of my section, I took General Welsh’s words to heart...
 
 

Off-base activities build your CAF

The Critical Days of Summer draw near. I know that in our shop this kicks off a slew of safety briefings about how to minimize the chance of injuries and stay out of danger. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from going out and exploring the Valley of the Sun. Luke is an amazing base because...
 
 

This week in history

April 30, 1975: The fall of Saigon Forty years ago this week, Saigon, the capital of the Republic of Vietnam, fell. The republic was also called South Vietnam. In 1973, United States combat troops left Vietnam, and though diminished, American support continued. Therefore, several thousand Americans still worked there. In March of 1975, the Democratic...
 

 
1401723279-mortalkombatx-xbox-onejpg-958cb1_624w

Fly Over: ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Mortal Kombat X’

On Netflix ‘Daredevil’ Add another hit series from the good people at Netflix. “Daredevil” joins the growing roster of original programming from the movie streaming service, including “House of Cards,” “Orange Is ...
 
 
Chaplain-seal

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Confessions of a nonCatholic chaplain: Why I love attending mass Last Sunday I had the privilege of attending Mass at Fowler Park. Twice a year Luke’s Catholic parish holds an outdoor Mass. The service is followed by a fellow...
 
 

The gift of leadership

Gen. Mark Welsh III may have said it best, “Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.” As the people of this nation give their children up to serve in the armed forces we as leaders need to be ready to lead them as they are...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin