It could be my imagination, but Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron are starting to look like sisters.
Okay, “Young Adult” is about Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), an author of a young adult book series (a book series that is coming to an end). That is her job, but as a person, she is a self-absorbed narcissist, and partially delusional. We see this within minutes when she goes on a date. The guy talks about how he spent time in Asia, teaching. Not all of us are meant to leave the US and take a job in some foreign country, teaching underprivileged youth; however, Mavis’ response is to show pity that he was exiled away from the big city of Minneapolis. Of course, this doesn’t stop her from sleeping with the guy. Her inability to grow out of her high school queen attitude is perhaps driven by her career choice. Due to her young adult writing, she is constantly watching teenage reality television and eating out at teen hangouts.
She gets a baby party invite from Beth Slade (Elizabeth Reaser). Beth is now married to Mavis’ high school boyfriend, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). Mavis initially interprets this as a slight by Beth. She hasn’t been back to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota in years and doesn’t consider them to be close friends. To her, this is just Beth sending a reminder that she is married to Buddy. With her teacher-one-night-stand still sleeping in her bedroom, Mavis decides she’s off to Mercury. Somewhere between getting the invitation and her one-night stand, she decides that she is going to win Bubby Slade back and show folks that she is still the prom queen.
As she drives through Mercury, you can almost see her distain for her hometown. To one side, she sees a Staples. On her other side, she sees a KenTacoHut. (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut). Never mind that she had just shopped at a Staples store in Minneapolis. And never mind the fact that she is later seen ordering from that very same fast food joint. No, she’s from Minneapolis and she has distain for her hometown and her goal is to rescue Buddy Slade from this life.
When she arrives in Mercury, one of the first individuals she runs into is Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt). We learn more about Mavis’ current character (and her high school character). Matt shared a locker right next to Mavis. Mavis has no recognition of Matt and in fact you can tell she’s lying when after some thought she recollects that they were, in fact, locker neighbors. She finally does remember him when she notices the cane that he uses to help him walk. Yes, Matt is the guy who got brutally beat up in high school, because a group of football players thought he was gay. And does Mavis sympathize with him? No, of course not. Her first reaction is: you got to miss a lot of school. Her second reaction: can you still function sexually?
Is there any redemption for Mavis? Does she learn that maybe her small town isn’t so bad? Does she figure out that she really shouldn’t be attempting to break up the Slade marriage? The answer is no. She spends her time manipulating others or leaning on folks as a crutch and then tossing them aside as soon as she sees no need for them. Of course, she is embarrassed in front of old friends (such a thing has to happen or us in the audience will get no satisfaction), but lessons learned, no way. She is forever that person that every high school guy wanted to date, but once those guys grown up they come to the realization that yes, she is smoking hot, but you admire her from a distance, not via a relationship. In fact, it is the small town folk who learn a lesson: perhaps it was better not to be that high school prom queen, even if that person appears to be relatively successful.
I liked this movie though I think you have to approach this as Mavis being delusional. If you approach this as Mavis being a sane person, you’ll see this movie as being an uneven development of the character. And also approach this movie from the understanding that she is an unhappy person and perhaps not as successful as her hometown classmates believe.
Notes: Have you ever wanted to hate Charlize Theron? Watch this movie and you might not be able to distinguish any difference between Mavis and Theron, which means she’s wonderful in this movie.
So how can someone who is 37 look so hot when this person drinks soda by the liter, doesn’t appear to exercise, is a functional alcoholic and eats at KenTacoHut?
I read a couple reviews that point out how Theron allows us to watch her go from plain to beautiful. I don’t know about that. She looks rather hot even when we see those dark shadows under her eyes. Maybe that’s just me.