Ever since Monster showed us that Charlize Theron was a lot more than just a pretty face, her name attached to a film has generally been seen as a positive sign (Aeon Flux notwithstanding). Naturally then when the trailer for Young Adult cropped up and appeared to show the lovely Miss Theron channelling her inner smart arse in a Diablo Cody scribed, Jason Reitman helmed flick, it looked like we’d be getting a much better version of Bad Teacher. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. But on the upside, while you don’t get a knockabout side-splitter about a narcissistic, smoking hot thirtysomething, you do get a meaty, emotional story about the deluded view she has of herself.
Theron is Mavis Gary a novelist whose portfolio is pretty much entirely composed of ghost written instalments of a humdrum young adult series. In a slump and lamenting over her high school sweetheart and furious that he had the audacity to have a baby with his wife Mavis decides to travel to her home town to attend the baby’s naming ceremony and steal her ex back in the process.
Sure it sounds like a full-on comedy, but Young Adult boasts a lot more. While things start off with the expected Cody humour, it soon becomes apparent that Mavis isn’t just some bitch of a woman looking to prise a man away from his family, she’s genuinely convinced that they belong together and that everything else is simply getting in the way of what’s right. As such Theron manages to deliver one of the best performances of her career. With the runtime not giving the film enough time to descend into depressing territory, we’re left with a succinct, smartly written, brilliantly acted little film. Sure it’s not the riot that you may expect but it’s definitely worth a peek.
The disc features an audio commentary by some of the crew, including Reitman, which proves pretty interesting and goes into a little more detail than the film itself serves up. Also on board are a few deleted scenes and a featurette in which Diablo Cody yaks about Mavis before pulling a scene to bits. It’s not bad but it is a little annoying to have an feature that simply spells the film out for you as plainly as possible…just in case the movie itself didn’t do a good enough job. Still, it’s not enough to stop this from being a pretty good release.
Overall verdict: Theron flexes her acting muscle again with a brilliant performance that’s tragic and hilarious in equal measure. It may not be the laugh a minute riot that the trailer promised, but there’s plenty of good, hard-hitting drama to chew on.
Commentary by Director Jason Reitman, Director of Photography Eric Steelberg and First Assistant Director/Associate Producer Jason A. Blumenfeld
The Awful Truth: Deconstructing a Scene’ Featurette
Reviewer: Jordan Brown