Young Adult, the latest effort from Juno collaborators Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman opens today in five cities. Platform releases are not unusual during awards season, but the strategy seems especially appropriate (or maybe ironic) in this case because the film makes a point of skewering middle America. It will be interesting to see how audiences react to the way writer Cody and director Reitman paint suburban life.
A soot-black comedy, Young Adult tells the story of a semi-successful writer — author, she insists — who seeks an escape from her empty city life by wrapping her last hopes for happiness around an old high school boyfriend. Never mind that the oblivious hunk happens to be happily married and the proud father of a new baby girl. Charlize Theron is wickedly brilliant as the desperate and despicable Mavis, who is mad enough to think she can still steal the heart of any man just by looking pretty. Calling her a trainwreck, though, is an insult to Amtrak, and Cody/Reitman are so unapologetic about their anti-hero that it makes a harrowing emotional cringefest like Rachel Getting Married seem like a hokey Disney movie. Mavis snickers at a date’s earnest idealism — before sleeping with him. She verbally impales one old classmate who has the brass to question her motives, shooting a vicious back-handed compliment that showcases the claws with which she once ruled the top of the high-school hen-house. And when she fixes an icy glare on a put-upon hotel clerk — brrrrrr — you can feel her wrath in the back row of the theater.
We first meet Mavis in Minneapolis, the “Mini Apple” where she’s wasting away before her daffy brainstorm to recapture her glory days. From the moment she gets in her Mini Cooper and heads home to Mercury, Minn., the audience is prompted to scoff at the simpletons still living in her hometown and their colorless lifestyle. READ FULL STORY