“Well I did not think the girl could be so cruel and I’m never going back to my old school” -Steely Dan
It’s a rare occasion when a movie comes along that cuts so close to the bone and the wounds that are inflicted from High School never seem to go away. The last time I identified so with a character was Neo in The Matrix. But that movie was just an escape from my doldrum life whereas in Young Adult the character of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) made me reflective and question the choices and decisions “In My Life.” But unlike that song I certainly didn’t “love them all,” in fact, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of that one horse town and move to the big city!! Very much like Mavis. Kudos to Diablo Cody who finally penned a real dysfunctional character unlike her past over the top hip, trip talking Juno and that Skank Vampire Megan Fox, or one of the many obnoxious multiple personalities of Tara – This time successfully fusing together a bittersweet comedy filled with pathos and introspective disdain that some would consider cynical. But then again, if you’ve ever sat through an episode of MTV’s Teen Mom than you’d know what the fuck I’m talking about.
Charlize’s character may still be as shallow as ever but at least she recognizes that there’s more to life than Walmarts and Ken-Taco Huts. Though in a delusional alcoholic fog she regresses to ignorant puppy love in hopes to rekindle a romance with her High School sweetheart regardless if he’s married with children. The only thing that didn’t ring true for me is her age of 37, when most of my High School colleagues are already getting hitched or divorced and popping out babies and they haven’t even turned 25 yet! At 37 I’d expect them to be Grandmas.
But what will always remain true is the nerdy kid who is ostracized and sits at home with his hobbies and fantasizes about girls like Charlize, and in this case that has never been portrayed better than by Patton Oswalt. Who not only shifts the whole tone of the movie’s perspective but gives the audience an empathetic character and makes for a unique duo paired with Mavis.
It pains me to think that this movie was so profoundly moving to me because it was directed by Jason Reitman (who is not only handed the best scripts in town but was also handed a whole directing career due to his Ghostbusters‘ Dad, Ivan) AND because I have a life. Even though I might envy that small town mentality of raising a family in the very same backwoods I grew up in when compared to the compartmentalization of the cosmopolitan mine is now, it still just sounds so fucking boring to me – I’d rather be lost in space than grounded in the sticks. So cheer up, sleepy Charlize….