Jan 15, 2012

Young Adult (2011): B

Jason Reitman rebounds from the noxious Up in the Air with Young Adult, although it's the stamp of screenwriter Diablo Cody that's most evident in this biting look at grown-up responsibilities and the difficulties of giving up youthful desires after tragedy and trauma scar the body and mind. Charlize Theron is a barbed wire force to be reckoned with as Mavis Gary, a successful, semi-celebrity ghost writer whose attraction to her ex Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) is rekindled when she's invited to his newborn baby's naming ceremony. Balancing her character's impractical ambitions of the heart with a very real hurt that transcends the film's cultural satire (which sadly skirts contempt of the middle and lower classes and culminates in an unfortunate speech that leaves an odious aftertaste), Theron is a tour-de-force of ping-pong emotions, contrasted almost sublimely by Patton Oswalt's turn as a hate crime victim. Often hilarious and true, but saddled with too much unexamined anger.

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