I wanted to hate Young Adult. I walked in with a strong dislike for Diablo Cody’s Juno, tired of her hipper than though speak – which to me was more the rumblings of a social outcast. All of the marketing and trailers sold this as another studio romantic comedy… which would no doubt lead to a warm and fuzzy feeling for everyone at the end. Something Katherine Heigl could have easily toplined instead of Charlize Theron.
Then I started to hear early reviews coming in talking about how dark the film was. How there was no redemption. And then Patton Oswalt got involved. He was on his twitter and various platforms praising this film and how it went against the grain.
I walked in wanting to hate it, but walked out really liking it. Although it is definitely a tough film to sell, every employee involved in marketing this picture should be fired. They are paid to sell these types of movies – not the Thors and giant blockbusters of the world. You get paid to be creative and effective at selling what is made. Not vice versa. That’s why a studio like Fox Searchlight is the best in the business. But I digress…
Charlize Theron goes all-in on this one. It is a brave performance and should garner her some Oscar consideration. She rarely wears make-up in the film (she’s still better looking than 99.9% of the world)… but for an actress to take that leap is definitely courageous. Her character is crazy, but not along the lines of someone like Homer Simpson. She’s self-aware. She has a drinking problem and when she comes clean about this, she’s ignored. Everything here feels pretty real and that’s a tribute to her performance and Jason Reitman. Everyone around her also puts in good performances, particularly Patton Oswalt. I’ve been a huge fan since Big Fan and I love seeing him in these meatier roles.
I do have some problems with the movie. Patrick Wilson’s Buddy Slade actually kisses Mavis back one night. He’s supposed to be drunk, but clearly something happened here. He’s saved by the babysitter, but if that didn’t happen – would he have gone further with her? Then, when she approaches him the next day – she never actually references the kiss. She talks about feelings – why not point to facts. You kissed me, do you not remember that? Why doesn’t she blurt that out when she blows up in front of the house? Also, Buddy states that his wife wanted to invite her to the naming ceremony. However, when he makes the call he’s in a room with a closed door and for all intents and purposes is speaking in a low voice. Reitman wants us to believe he had no intentions there? I’m not so sure about this and would have liked to explore this a bit more.
Overall though, the film is engaging, entertaining and uncomfortable in the best way possible. I will not question Jason Reitman anymore. I forgive him for Juno. It put him on the map and got a few Oscars (same awards ceremony that gave Crash a best picture by the way). Thank You For Smoking is good and Up in the Air is great… and this only cements his status as someone who makes challenging, but highly entertaining movies for adults.