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

The Playlist By Edward Davis | The Playlist October 21, 2011 at 7:28AM

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.
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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.

This article is related to: Films, Actresses, Young Adult, Charlize Theron


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