Young Adult

by Tom Ingram

Genre Comedy
People Charlize Theron a.p.; Patton Oswalt; Patrick Wilson; Jason Reitman d.p.; Diablo Cody w.p.;
/10 8

A quintessential high school prom queen (Theron), now in her late thirties, returns to her hometown when she learns that her old boyfriend (Wilson) and his wife have had a baby, hoping to rekindle the relationship and elope to the big city. Patton Oswalt, the nerd she ignored in high school, gives her refuge, counsel, and the occasional stern word while trying to dissuade her from her scheme.

This is not a happy movie. It’s not even a very funny movie, unless you’re the type who finds uncomfortable social situations funny. It’s not really about the addiction and obsession of a single person. It’s about prolonged adolescence, the many forms it takes, and what it means for us as a society. These themes are of paramount importance to modern culture, and it’s rare to see them discussed in such a nuanced way.

The director is Jason Reitman (Ivan’s son) and the script is by Diablo Cody. The two last collaborated on Juno, a movie so trendy it doesn’t know what to do with itself. The indie sensibility and inane catchphrases are abandoned here in favour of a heartfelt, honest story about people dodging adulthood.

The heart of the movie is Patton Oswalt, a tremendously funny comedian who’s been under- and misused by Hollywood. Wilson’s good-natured discomfort and Theron’s crazed self-centredness come off well without being one-note. The most effective bit in the movie shows Theron’s character applying makeup before one of her vain attempts on Wilson. It’s not a pretty process and it’s not the sort of thing often shown in detail in the movies.

1h34m; 2011; Colour