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First Review Of Jason Reitman's 'Young Adult': Edgy, Subversive, Think "Juno's Wicked Step-Sister"

by Edward Davis
October 21, 2011 7:28 AM
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While it circumvented the traditional fall film festival route, as you've probably heard by now, Jason Reitman and Paramount have been hosting "pop-up screenings" of the "Up In The Air" director's latest film, "Young Adult." The first screening was held in Toronto, Canada, and the second screening this week took place in Minneapolis; perfect considering the setting of this new film is small-town Minnesota.

Reteaming Reitman with "Juno" scribe Diablo Cody, the picture centers on a young adult fiction writer stuck between adolescence and adulthood. Man child? Think woman-child. And soon after her divorce, she returns to her suburban hometown just outside of Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now married with kids. The picture stars as Charlize Theron, as the 30-something writer in question, Patrick Wilson as her ex, Elizabeth Reaser as Wilson's wife and comedian Patton Oswalt as a high school acquaintance who soon becomes an unlikely ally and friend (Reitman regular J.K. Simmons plays the narrator).

We read the script last year. It's a dark effort, uncomfortable and ugly to look at, hard to watch unfold, but a mature and strong effort from Cody that demonstrates that she keeps growing as a writer. Theron's character, as you can tell from the recent trailer, is a self-involved, self-destructive narcissist. Reitman's already suggested the film won't be an easy pill to swallow and that's mighty fine with us since that's what the script is and we really dug it.

This a long and convoluted way of saying the first review from the Minneapolis pop-up screening has arrived and it bodes well -- it doesn't sound like any of the script's pages were dulled at all.

"Think of it as 'Juno's' wicked step sister," the Star Tribune's Colin Covert wrote. Apparently it contains a "pop-saturated soundtrack" and Covert call is "edgy, subversive and hilariously embarrassing." Here's two graphs that aren't very spoiler-ish, but sound very promising.

Edgy, subversive and hilariously embarrassing, "Young Adult" undercuts the conventions of female-centered comedies at each turn. It manages to keep us invested in the story despite focusing almost every scene on a thoroughly unpleasant protagonist. The supporting characters provide the homespun humanity Mavis lacks, especially Wilson as the bland new papa and Elizabeth Reaser as his funloving wife.

Theron delivers a brave, darkly amusing performance as a one-time alpha female realizing that life is passing her by. In her scenes with Oswalt, Theron drops her character's mask of mean girl poise, revealing the fear, loneliness and confusion beneath

We can't wait. "Young Adult" is scheduled to arrive in theaters on December 16th. As the tag-line says, "Everyone gets old. Not everyone grows up."

Here's the the limited edition poster for Wednesday's pop-up screening of "Young Adult" in Minneapolis, as created by the graphic design firm Aesthetic Apparatus.

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More: Films, Actresses, Young Adult, Charlize Theron

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  • Nik Grape | October 21, 2011 12:13 PMReply

    I'm fuckin stoked for this movie.

  • jimmiescoffee | October 21, 2011 11:48 AMReply

    buzz. 0/10.


  • Kevin Jagernauth | October 21, 2011 10:49 AMReply


  • Sam | October 21, 2011 10:46 AMReply

    Exactly GroupThink. If anyone involved with this project wanted us to take it seriously, they would've cast Rachel Dratch.

  • Group Think | October 21, 2011 9:42 AMReply

    I agree with Sam. We also had 'Bad Teacher' with an unlikely female lead character (notice that they are both beautiful blondes which usually means that no matter how mean they are the audience will look up at the beautiful face and forgive) why no Oscar buzz around Cameron Diaz? I guess because Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman weren't in charge of that movie. If you really want mean, unlikeable lead female hire someone who isn't some bombshell to play the part. In movies where the male is a jerk, he doesn't look like Brad PItt.

  • Group Think-less | February 9, 2012 7:32 PM

    "why no Oscar buzz around Cameron Diaz"... Because Bad Teacher sucked??!!! What kind of logic is that? Of course there is zero buzz around Diaz and that film... it was horrible and the entire premise fell flat about 15 minutes into the film. Diaz doesn't work at the level of Theron (aka mediocre actress versus a superb actress), so it's a given that even before Bad Teacher came out there were low expectations in terms of awards buzz.

  • Sanchize | October 21, 2011 9:16 AMReply

    Does Ryan Gosling know you're cheating on him with Jason Reitman? Embarrassing as usual.

  • jimmiescoffee | October 21, 2011 9:01 AMReply

    didn't Wes Anderson use Bowie's 'queen bitch' like 10 years ago? Cody can piss off too.

  • jimmiescoffee | October 21, 2011 8:58 AMReply

    Jason Reitman sucks.

  • Sam | October 21, 2011 7:51 AMReply

    Did we really read the same script? Because the script I read was unremarkable, verging on boring. In what way is this edgy? Because it's not like Juno? If this film wasn't written by Diablo Cody, no one would be paying attention.

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