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.


 
 

 

Red Ribbon reminder to be drug free

Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered on Feb. 7, 1985, by Mexican drug traffickers. After the murder of Agent Camarena citizens of his hometown of Calexico, California, wore red ribbons in his honor. This marked the beginning of the oldest and most visible prevention awareness campaign in the...
 
 

Dollars and Sense

As a new government employee, you have the opportunity to save for your retirement through the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is similar to a 401(k) plan in the private sector. Participating in the TSP is easy. You can use the electronic version, such as EBIS or myPay, or fill out the Form TSP-1 (www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-1.pdf)....
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

It has been said that when you are struggling you are growing. We see this in athletic pursuits. No one achieves improvement or excellence by lounging about. Rather it is as we push our physical limits that we improve our performance. We see this in our academic endeavors. While our basic intelligence may be static...
 

 
Abraham_Lincoln_Vampire_Hunter_Cover

Fly Over: ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ and ‘Gone Girl’

In bookstores: ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ Mashup novel has bite but eventually turns to dust *Warning! This review may contain spoilers. ‘Tis the season for books, movies and TV shows featuring the scary, s...
 
 
Forino_J

U.S., Singapore partnership standout

Lt. Col. John Forino Aug. 9 marked the 49th anniversary of Singapore’s independence. The 425th Fighter Squadron is an operational squadron comprised of elite U.S. Air Force and Republic of Singapore air force personnel design...
 
 
shirts-graphicbw

‘Guts’ required to enforce standards

A few years ago, a fellow senior NCO requested I talk to her subordinate about her appearance, specifically pertaining to her hair. Naturally, I asked about what the issue was and why she couldn’t have a discussion with her o...
 




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