Young Adult directed by Jason Reitman written by Diablo Cody ( (Paramount Pictures, Denver and Delilah Productions, and Indian Paintbrush, R 94 Minutes)
Starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, and Patrick Wilson.
The Glory Days, Or, A Period I’d Soon Forget
In my opinion, high school is an odd sociological experiment. For most people, the high school experience is one soon forgotten. Some encounter intense rejection from “popular” groups; others find studying stressful fully understanding the importance of high grades on later success.
For others, high school is the apogee in life. High school connects budding social beings in a focused group. Every high school has a “popular” crowd with the whole school orbiting around that social class.
Interestingly, certain “popular” kids never find the same swagger in the post-high-school landscape. Whether their low grades expectorate these kids into unglamorous jobs or the totality of the world population is a social mountain too high to conquer, some popular kids are never the same.
In Jason Reitman’s and Diablo Cody’s Young Adult, we find such a protagonist—returning from an urban metropolis to her small-town roots expecting her former classmates to reaccept her queen bee status from high school.
A Young Adult
A divorced ghostwriter of young adult novels from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) receives a baby announcement from her high school boyfriend, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).
Encountering writer’s block during the process of drafting the final novel in a soon-to-be-cancelled series, Waverly Prep, Mavis journeys back home to Mercury, Minnesota hoping to rekindle old flames with the happily married Buddy.
After scheduling a “catch-up” meeting with Buddy for the following day, Mavis relieves stress through alcohol consumption at the local watering hole. There, she encounters a former high school classmate, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt). His name does not ring a bell until Matt confides he was the guy who jocks beat up presuming he was gay, leaving Matt permanently disabled.
With copious amounts of alcohol releasing her inhibitions, Mavis admits she has returned to rekindle her relationship with Buddy. Matt, having remained integral to the social workings of the small town, laughs at her audacity, claiming Buddy is a happily married man and not worth ruining a marriage over.
With the arrogance of a high school popular girl, Mavis shoves aside Matt’s worries hoping to win over a former love.
When Everyone Else Moves On
As Young Adult unfolds, the viewer encounters numerous awkward scenarios as Mavis’ former classmates receive glimpses of her neuroses. Not wanting to be impolite, her old friends include her in social occasions while Mavis’ delusions about her relationship with Buddy increase.
Her current life derailed, Mavis desperately seeks to reignite the social systems which exalted her in high school. While all of her former friends and lovers have moved to greener pastures, Mavis refuses to do the same.
Perhaps Mavis concocts references her former exploits in her young adult novels and therefore, has lost touch with a post-high-school reality.
More Awkward than Comedic
Young Adult is labeled a dark comedy, but I don’t find it funny. Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody place Mavis in excruciatingly awkward situations. Truthfully, Young Adult is difficult to watch. But, I enjoyed the storyline. Mavis’ disconnect with reality resonates as she seeks to relive her glory years.
The world is so much bigger than a graduating class. The sooner we can realize this truth, the easier life becomes. Does it matter how we acted, who we dated, how we felt? In the grand scheme of things, the worries of high school are infinitely meaningless. For some people, life will never be as good as it was in high school. For others, high school is something they’d soon forget.
If you can withstand awkwardness and you are a fan of quirky and semi-depressing films, give Young Adult a try.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5
How was high school for you? Do you miss the glory years or are you glad it is over? Is there any value in reliving the past?
Share your thoughts below.