Monday, January 23, 2012

Young Adult

Diablo Cody hit such a high with her debut film "Juno" (2007) and had the sophomore slump with "Jennifer's Body" (2009), but finally with "Young Adult" we see the return of the sharply tongued writing styles that drew so many fans to her in the beginning. Even teaming up with Jason Reitman, director from "Juno", sounds like a smart way to recover from the sophomore slump. Unfortunately, this film was already made this year with "Bad Teacher" and the main character in the film doesn't have any grand revelation that changes her outlook.

The story is pretty simple, and fits perfectly in the R-rated comedy genre focusing on Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a young adult (YA) fiction writer, who has returned to her small-town Minnesota home, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), who is now married with a child to Beth Slade (Elizabeth Reaser). Mavis Gary is clearly delusional and thinks of herself as a character in her YA books where everything will work out perfectly in the end. Whether it is the textual chemistry or the physical attention that she desires she clearly has a lot of problems and it is difficult for her to be happy. The story is leading her to an explosive encounter with Beth Slade and the rest of the town as witness to her breakdown.

The performances in the film are not the best. Charlize Theron in all her beauty is interesting to watch as her character is constantly covering up her beauty with make-up, manicures and pedicures to hide the depressed and bitter person she is on the inside. She believes that what is on the outside is important and not the beauty on the inside. Having to portray a character that is so easy to despise as the psychotic prom queen bitch, it is difficult to win an audience with, and she does a terrific job with what she has to work with, but ultimately I just didn't care about her in the end. Patrick Wilson was good in "Insidious", but is forgettable in this performance. It is almost as if he was trying to dumb down, or simplify, his character and doesn't comes across as being genuine.

The performance from Patton Oswalt as Matt Freehauf is probably the best of the film, as the guy that was picked on (and brutally attacked) in school that has grown up. His character was the victim of a hate crime in high school after being beat with a crowbar crushing his legs and genitals. Unfortunately, it was later considered not to be a hate crime when everyone realized he wasn't gay. He makes Mos Eisley Star Wars juice, re-purposes childhood toys in the style of "RobotChicken", and for the greater part of the film he is the voice of reason telling Mavis that she is delusional.

For a film that is about a person that is stuck in the past, and not able to move beyond their high school glory days the soundtrack is critical in executing that time capsule feeling. The soundtrack might be the best part of the film and I wish I had a "Mad Love Buddy" mixtape with 1990s-created alt-rock cuts. The soundtrack includes the Replacements, the Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub ("The Concept" is arguably the theme of the film, played several times), Cracker, 4 Non Blondes and Veruca Salt. I am hoping that the studio, or a fan, will produce some band t-shirts for Nipple Confusion.

With the writer, director and actor's invovled in the film I wanted to like this more, but it falls in the middle of the road with just 3 Quacks. There is clever writing, but that can only take you so far when you have characters that you just don't really care about. So make a trip to Ken-Taco-Hut and wait for this film on DVD.

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