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Young Adult

by Melissa Silverstein
December 9, 2011 12:39 PM
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I heart Young Adult.  I heart it because it is an awesome and original story.  I heart it because Charlize Theron hits it out of the park as the horribly bitchy Mavis a woman stuck in her high school self because that was when she was queen.  You know when you look at the male football players in high school and they are so cute and so dumb but they rule the world because it is high school.  But you know that those are the same guys who wind up selling vacuum cleaners and developing a beer gut by the time they are 30.  The guys you were in awe of become the sad ones.  Mavis is one of those guys, but she is a girl.  She peaked at 16.  She was the golden mean bitch who I'm sure roamed the halls spilling slushees on the plebes.

But Mavis who is now approaching middle age has spent the last decade or so in a time warp and she's stuck.  She wants back to her glory days but the problem is everyone else has moved on except her.  She returns home to get back her high school boyfriend and reeks havoc on everyone she comes into contact with.  Nothing is pretty when Mavis is in the room.

Diablo Cody who wrote the script is the woman with the biggest balls in Hollywood.  She takes one of Hollywood's darlings  -- Charlize Theron -- and makes her into the bitch of the century.  There is nothing redeeming about Mavis.  There is no 3rd act where she discovers that she is a bitch and now becomes a nice woman.  Nope.  She's just plain not nice. 

The reason why the movie works is because it is so well written, so well acted, and so well directed by Jason Reitman.  Patton Oswalt is a deft foil to Mavis as Matt one of the guys she went to high school with whom she paid no attention to because he was beneath her.  He is able to put Mavis in her place and with Matt, Mavis is the most honest, but don't worry she doesn't get any nicer.

Supposedly according bullshit Hollywood folklore, men are allowed to be unlikeable onscreen and women are not.  We like our women nice and our men to be complicated.  This movie is clearly pushing the envelope, but it is an envelope that needs to be ripped open and shredded.  I want to see interesting women onscreen and I am sick of seeing the same type of boring woman in Hollywood movies.

This film is a fucking bitchy breath of fresh air.

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  • Maureen | January 8, 2012 1:59 AMReply

    I couldn't agree more. The double standard is alive & well. And woo be to those who see & challenge it. Scott Mendelson is an ally. Lovely to hear a pro-feminist voice in a male reviewer.

  • jingmei | December 10, 2011 8:44 AMReply

    Young Adult is damn specifically unique.

  • Susan Hess Logeais | December 9, 2011 9:21 PMReply

    Living with lower levels of oxytocin (the hormone that allows women to be nice) has left me not that nice now that I'm middle-aged and menopausal.
    Can't wait to see it!

  • Scott Mendelson | December 9, 2011 4:22 PMReply

    I wrote about the whole "men are allowed to be unlikeable onscreen and women are not. We like our women nice and our men to be complicated" thing the other day. At your leisure -

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