Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Young Adult

Missions unaccomplished.

(Page 2 of 2)

Mavis Gary is a mess, a one-time high-school hottie now going to seed at 37. She’s a best-selling author, sort of (she ghost-writes a series of popular Young Adult novels), but her Minneapolis apartment is a pit, she has a serious bourbon problem, and she chugs Coke for breakfast after waking up next to whichever random lug she happened to bring home the night before.   

One day Mavis gets a blast email announcing the birth of a baby, adorable photo attached. It’s from Buddy Slade, her old high school boyfriend. High school was 20 years ago, but Mavis remembers it—and Buddy—fondly: She wasn’t a mess then. Giving the matter some self-centered thought, she decides that Buddy is the guy she was meant to be with. He’s still living in their corny hometown, married now, and with the baby, it’s true; but why should that stand in the way of her winning him back?

In Young Adult, director Jason Reitman and his Juno scribe Diablo Cody attempt something tricky. Cody’s story is a deconstruction of that Hollywood staple, the romantic comedy hooked on an idiotic premise. These are the kind of pictures in which a woman desperate for a child has herself artificially inseminated and then discovers that the requisite fluid has been anonymously donated by her adoring best friend. Or two girlfriends discover that their long-planned weddings have been accidentally scheduled at the Plaza Hotel on the very same day. The trailer for Young Adult might seem to promise exactly that sort of disposable chuckle fest. But the movie is actually much darker, and more daring.

Arriving back in Mercury, Minnesota, Mavis finds that there’s now even more to sneer at. (“We’re gettin’ a new Chipotle at the mall,” one resident enthuses—while local women with long memories deplore the return of the “psychotic prom-queen bitch.”) Ducking into a bar, she encounters Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), a onetime high school classmate she only hazily recalls: “Weren’t you that hate-crime guy?” Indeed he was. Back in the day Matt, wrongly thought to be gay, was viciously beaten—his legs shattered, his genitalia irreparably damaged—by a gang of “those jocks you used to blow during lunch,” as he puts it. (Mavis’ response: “You can’t keep dwelling on the past.”) Now Matt limps about with a cane, lives with his sister, and has no life to speak of. Soon he has a mission, though: derailing Mavis’ bizarre scheme to lasso the good-natured Buddy (Patrick Wilson) away from his sweet, cheerful wife, Beth (an endearing Elizabeth Reaser).

Mavis is a woman with no redeeming qualities. (Addressing Beth in Buddy’s presence, she says, “I still sleep in his t-shirts and boxers.”) She’s impossible to like, and yet Theron’s unyieldingly hard-shelled performance is fascinating. Wilson’s Buddy is almost an ancillary character—his love for his family is stronger than Mavis is capable of imagining, but there’s not much more for the actor to demonstrate. The movie’s warmest and most winning presence is Oswalt, playing a man whose heart has proved more durable than his crippled body. It’s a resourceful, career-changing performance.  

In the usual rom-com of this sort, you’d know with a weary certainty where the story was headed. But Young Adult doesn’t go there, or anywhere nearby. For a mass-market film, this is a considerable risk. It’s good to know there are filmmakers still willing to take it.

Kurt Loder is a writer living in New York. His third book, a collection of film reviews called The Good, the Bad and the Godawful, is now available. Follow him on Twitter at kurt_loder.


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  • PantsFan||

    Charlize Theron is my favorite African.

  • ||

    I thought she was African-American?

  • PantsFan||

    I do not believe she claims American citizenship.

  • ||

    You have a problem in African-Americans? Racist!

  • PantsFan||

    I stand corrected.

  • ||

    Tomas Alfredson directed a hilarious Swedish black comedy Torsk pa Tallin. Definitely worth checking out.

  • Gojira||

    There are black people in Sweden?

    I would love to see their comedy! As long as it doesn't involve one actor in multiple roles in a fat suit : (

  • Mr. A. Sandler, Esq||

    You don't have to be black to pull that off.

  • ||

    How about Adam Sandler dressed as a chick?

    That fucking thing has almost made its money back, and undoubtedly will. Sandler has clowned us all. He can make an abomination and still make money.

    Well, good for him. I'll admit to laughing at times to a number of his movies. But this thing looks excruciating.

  • ||

  • ||

    That's the Plinkett reviews guys, btw.

  • ||

    Me no can watch at work. What's the gist?

  • ||

    Laziest, cheapest "comedy" to date. Production budget of ~ $80M but cheaper production than a sitcom.

  • ||

    "Okay, how about this: Adam Sandler is, like, in love with some girl. But it turns out that the girl is actually a golden retriever, or something."

    This is why I say he clowned us all. How much of that $80 million went to his salary? How much was spent on catering, and his buddies? This is like when The Rat Pack would make throwaway stuff like Ocean's 11.

  • ||

    Yup, this is exactly what they were saying. Scam.

  • ||

    He took home $20M. Still doesn't justify $60M.

  • ||

    Actually the actors did do multiple roles a la Python, but I don't remember any fat suits.

  • Gojira||

    It's the fat suits that kill it.

    And I haven't laughed at an Adam Sandler movie in...what, a decade maybe?

  • Gojira||

    I would like to add that I no longer laugh at them because he is a Jew and I am an anti-semite.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    There are black people in Sweden?

    Don't you remember?

  • KDN||

  • ||

    "There are black people in Sweden?"

    Well, pretty much everybody in Bergman films dresses in black- does that count?

  • ||

    As seen on the AV Club, the TNG/Fresh Prince crossover that never was.

    http://www.theruthlessforum.co.....&start=600

    Sirtis

    It was crazy – the more dreamlike the shows were getting, the more real the fear of unemployment was getting. At this point in the run, we were practically running out for auditions between takes.

    This time I remember most because of the infamous Fresh Prince crossover. Some oldster at NBC who used to go drinking with Roddenberry thought it might be a good idea, and our brain trust were all excited, probably because they got to shmooze with a real network. I wasn't going to do it unless everybody else was, and surprise, they all said yes, so I agreed too. I guess the idea was for the Fresh Prince and Carlton to sneak on to the Paramount lot, and of course Carlton is a huge trekkie, so they come to our set, and the Fresh Prince tries macking on me and we're supposed to get locked in a prop cupboard or some goddamn thing, and the Fresh Prince strikes out, but Carlton ends up getting kissed by Gates, and Frakes grabs the Fresh Prince and Patrick says "Make it so," and Frakes does the Uncle Phil move, you know, throwing a dummy of the Fresh Prince out a door, and Jazzy Jeff somehow shows up with Geordi's visor on, and, yeah, hilarity ensues.
  • first||

    Still a porn star and now a supermodel, she has the face – and the body – of an angel.

    One of the most famous models to come out of Japan in within the last 6 years, Maria Ozawa appears in bukkake films and still made the cover of FHM magazine. These are Impressive credentials for anyone, but not surprising when you see the perfect proportions of this cute little thing.

    A phenomenon on both YouTube and YouPorn - she is yin and yang, the best of two worlds. Sexy and innocent, sweet and arousing, and she loves shopping for shoes.

    Maria Ozawa is a unique Japanese icon and celebrity, in many different ways. And now she appears here, on Hegre-Art.

  • Gojira||

    I don't think appearing in bukkake films exactly constitutes, "impressive credentials" in the context that most people would use those words.

  • Shmenge||

    I'm kinda partial to Yuma Asami myself.

  • redefiler||

    Fortune cookie say: Asian porn enthusiast = hung like squirrel.

    Other fortune cookie say: Asian porn enthusiast + Batman fan = hung like squirrel + quick like rabbit.

    Sorry fellas, Confucious never lies... except on penis size surveys. Somehow this all relates to Gary Oldman and his unhealthy appetite for bukakke porn and tiny boners.

    Real men beat off with chunky peanut butter to Hane's catalogs. You know if there's that much elastic, it's going to be a hell of a ride, unlike the Batmobile. That's just cramped full of Batman's incessant whining and foot odor.

  • LuLu Rockwell||

    A perfect white natural American libertarian specimen.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Well, this thread got weird really fast.

  • juris imprudent||

    Usually there is some discussion about how someone planned to see one film or the other.

    Not this time.

  • ||

    oh, i know she play many roles in other movies, but not so fat!

  • ||

    Just when was the "height of the cold war?" This is the laziest expression employed for the post-war period. Every year from 1947 to the fall of the Berlin Wall has been called the "height of the Cold War." Please stop.

  • ||

    ALL the years of the Cold War were "the height of the Cold War."

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