I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Young Adult

tn_youngadultYou know how sometimes you’re watching a movie and you feel like you don’t like the character as much as you’re supposed to? They’re meant to be relatable but you just think they’re an asshole? Well, YOUNG ADULT is the rare case where I felt like I liked the protagonist more than I was probly supposed to. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a real selfish asshole, she’s trying to do something crazy and unethical that could ruin people’s lives. So I felt kinda guilty about how much I liked and related to her.

I’m pretty sure I’m a nicer person than Mavis, and less deluded. She’s a ghost writer of a once-popular series of young adult novels, living with her purse-sized dog in a highrise in Minneapolis. When she gets an email birth announcement from her high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) she goes back to her home town of Mercury, MN, and tries to get him to leave his wife for her.

I wouldn’t do anything like that. I guess the worst parts of her are nothing like me, but I feel a kinship because I recognize that I share some of her other bad qualities: Avoiding family and others for no good reason. Not remembering people who seem to remember her well.  Not being as impressed by babies as normal people, or remembering their gender (“There it is,” she says when she sees it). Good move, actually – I would’ve fucked up and said the wrong “he” or “she.” That’s okay with a dog but I think people take it more personally when it’s made out of their DNA.

mp_youngadultWhen she arrives back in her home town of Mercury, Mavis drives past a Staples, a Chili’s, a KFC-Taco-Bell-Pizza-Hut, and it rings so true. Whenever I travel I see the same logos, the same buildings, and I get depressed by the idea that I’ve gone hundreds of miles and I’m seeing strip malls identical to ones anywhere off I-5. I relate to Mavis getting depressed by this place, her wanting to get the fuck away from there, but also that part of her that wants to come back and let everyone know she moved away to the city and was successful in some creative pursuit. I even relate to her insecurity about whether or not her book constitutes success (in my opinion my book is better than hers although hers probly paid her bills for a while). I mean, if I’m ever insecure about wanting to impress somebody it’s probly gonna be the type of person that’s not impressed that you wrote a book about Steven Seagal movies.

Mavis is obviously a jerk to look down on her people the way she does, and to not understand that they’re happy and don’t see themselves as losers like she does. But at the same time she’s not entirely wrong. Mercury is kind of a shithole. The problem is she figured out what she hates but hasn’t found that good of an alternative. I agree with her preference for the city but also notice that her life there isn’t so great either. In fact her apartment doesn’t look that much different from her hotel room. While the suburban squares she looks down on are having actual fun playing “mom rock” in bars with their friends she’s laying around watching the Kardashians on TV, drinking Diet Coke out of a 2-liter bottle first thing in the morning.

The best and smartest friend she makes when she comes back home is Buddy (Patton Oswalt from BLADE: TRINITY), a grown man who lives with his sister who he sort of hates, and his creative passion (other than gluing together models) is to distill his own bourbon… which he and Mavis then use to try to forget their problems. He truly can’t let go of what happened to him in high school (because it left him permanently disabled and disfigured) but does a better job of it than Mavis does.

* * *

YOUNG ADULT is just the type of dry, dark, uncomfortable humor I like, but it’s a little more of a drama than the other anti-hero comedies it reminds me of, like BAD SANTA. It’s not nearly as jokey. They could’ve called it BAD AUTHOR to fit in that new BAD tradition, but it’s not really that much about her life as a young adult author. It’s just kind of ironic that this person could be molding the minds of young girls, or maybe appropriate that a woman who needs to grow up knows how to speak directly to actual girls.

Remember how I used to go off on tangents in my reviews? Here’s one. I don’t really get this “Young Adult” or “YA” thing lately. After the popularity of Twilight and the pre-ordained popularity of The Hunger Games some of the entertainment media feel they have to cover the “young adult” genre of literature. There’s even a section of Badass Digest called Forever Young Adult that’s all about it.

Now, the boys are all saying that this HUNGER GAMES movie lived up to the hype they participated in creating for it, so maybe there’s something to those books, I don’t know. But I still don’t get the Adults Reading YA phenomenon. We are not talking about a genre, like super heroes or magic unicorns, that can be done in many ways for different types and maturities of people. We’re not talking about a medium, like illustrated funnystrip books, which can be used for harmless kiddie fluff about Spiderman punching a guy dressed up as a rhinoceros OR sophisticated adult fare where Spiderman gets raped. I mean isn’t “young adult” by definition an age group? Isn’t being into young adult like being into programming aimed at a specific (younger than you) age demographic?

It’s not even like a little kid book where they might sneak in some themes for the adult that’s reading to the kid to understand. It’s designed for the 11 or 12 year old girl to read to herself, right? In my opinion there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of books out there that are written for adults, and because I’m a slow reader I’m pretty sure I won’t live long enough to read all of them. But if I do maybe I’ll then move down to the books they wrote for little kids. Until then let’s stay out of this, grownups. It’s none of our business.

(NOTE: glancing at the the Forever Young Adult websight I can see that it doesn’t take it all that seriously, it seems like kind of a guilty pleasure of women drinking martinis and reading cheesy books that make them nostalgic for their teen years. So I can understand it there. I guess it was this “Why You Should Care About the Hunger Games” piece, combined with the months of wall-to-wall Hungermania on my colleague Drew’s sight, that had me scratching my head.)

* * *

This is some of the best work for everybody involved. The director is Jason Reitman, who did UP IN THE AIR and JUNO. I liked both of those movies, but have always been kind of skeptical about him having any depth. I think I’m biased because I hated the smarmy trailer for THANK YOU FOR SMOKING so much. Maybe I’ll have to give in and give that movie a chance. Anyway, to me YOUNG ADULT is by far his best movie. It perfectly balances a very tricky tone, it’s beautifully shot (worth watching on blu-ray), it never made me think “oh, this part he’s trying to be like Wes Anderson” or anything like that. He’s come into his own.

But I see it more as writer Diablo Cody’s movie. It definitely seems like her voice on screen. I guess she’s still kind of a controversial figure. All the hype about her made me skeptical too, but to me the humanity shines through the sometimes self-conscious dialogue and references in JUNO, and in retrospect that stuff seems like part of the message of the movie, that Juno tries to shield herself by making clever quips and being up on SUSPIRIA but underneath she’s a vulnerable human being. JENNIFER’S BODY wasn’t as good but I think I gave Cody more credit on that than most people did, so I’ve been won over. (I hear her TV show United States of Tara is good, but haven’t seen it.)

If you still associate Cody with that “home skillet” thing at the beginning of JUNO don’t worry, there’s nothing like that in this one at all. The only references are to songs and bands that Mavis listened to with this guy when they were in high school in the ’90s. Like Mandrill she has a cassette player in her car so that she can listen to a particular tape that has meaning from her past. And I figured out from the credits that some of the score is kind of doing jazzy versions of Pearl Jam songs and stuff, but I didn’t recognize them. That music has no nostalgia for me at all and still felt perfectly organic in the movie, so it passes the smell test.

This is one of Theron’s great performances. Remember when she won an Oscar playing Aileen Wuernos, and she had to have special effects makeup to be believable? Here she has a role where her looks don’t make her seem like Hollywood bullshit, because looking like that would help her get away with being so horrible. And everybody else is great too: Oswalt as the warm and funny face of suburban misery, Wilson in another great well-meaning-but-clueless-guy-trying-to-get-through-uncomfortable-situation. And I want to give special notice to a small part by Elizabeth Reaser Collette Wolfe as Beth Sandra, Buddy’s sister. It was killing me where I knew her from, but she’s that poor girl in THE FOOT FIST WAY who just wants to take a tae kwan do lesson without getting hit on. Here she’s funny and sad and pulls off one of the trickiest moments, a part that makes the movie for me and probly breaks it for some of the people that hate it.

CRUCIAL ENDING SCENE DISCUSSED NEXT 3 (THREE) PARAGRAPHS

At the end of the movie Mavis realizes she’s hit rock bottom, and everything has presented itself to her to teach her a valuable lesson about life, to understand what she’s missing about where she came from and how it can make her happier. And she sits down with that character whose job it is to give her some much-needed words of advice, some folksy wisdom that pulls it all together. To give her that final nudge that will make her appreciate what she has and understand what she has to let go of, be better to herself, be less hateful of others, be a better person.

Except… this character gives her terrible advice. She tells her exactly what she wants to hear. And I think Mavis fuckin knows it, too, that this is not right. But it’s easier to take the bad advice than to have to change. She’s relieved to not have to change. She lucked out.

It’s so great not only because it’s true to life (lots of people never learn their lesson) but also because of how it plays with our knowledge of movies. You understand how this story is supposed to end, and it might even feel earned in this case. So when the pieces don’t fall into place and the rules are broken it has kind of a satisfying anarchist kick to it. This crazy bitch has defeated Hollywood formula. If you loved this like I did and you ever need a reason to bang your head against the wall, I recommend reading the YOUNG ADULT message boards on IMDb. You’ll find plenty of people who think “nothing happened” because she didn’t become a better person at the end. (Bonus: those people who are so outraged by the existence of product placement that they never notice when it’s being used as a critique of the corporatization of our culture that you would think would be the reason whey the were against product placement in the first place.)

OKAY THAT WAS IT

If you’ve been reading my reviews the last month or so you can see I’ve been pleasantly surprised by alot of stuff I’ve seen lately. I’ve been having some good movie-watching luck, but of all the things I’ve seen lately this is the one that hit me the strongest and stayed in my thoughts for days after. I can see that it’s not for everybody, but man did I love it. If I had seen it last year it would’ve been high up on that list I made.

Product placement:

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2012 at 3:05 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

52 Responses to “Young Adult”

  1. Damn. I was going to rent this last night but ended up with TinTin instead. After such high and lofty praise I suppose I’ll have to check it out.

    Glad to hear that the ‘cute’ and ‘edgy’ slang bullshit didn’t translate from Juno to this. I really really despised Juno, and no solely because I hated the screenplay so much. I couldn’t get behind anything in that film, and I’m a fan of 95% of the people involved. I would like to like a Diablo Cody film. They just don’t seem to be making them for ‘me’. We’ll see how YA shakes out.

    As an aside about the YA craze, well, I’m a twenty-six year old and I recently read the Hunger Games off of a friends recommendation. They were quite enjoyable, easy to read, fun, engrossing. I’m looking forward to the film, although I don’t think it’s going to be the Second Coming or anything. I’d be happy if it was just fun. Haven’t read Twilight or any of the other YA crazes of late, and don’t have much interest in doing so, but I wouldn’t write off an entire shelf of books just because of the demographic they are aimed at.

    I like a little bit of everything.

  2. Vern — consider seeing THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. It’s smarmy, sure (not as much as the trailers would make it seem, though) but uses its smarm for valid artistic purposes. The way JUNO’s self-conscious hipness felt forced to most people but was actually INTENTIONALLY forced to tell us something about the character, so too is Eckhart’s character smug in an effort to hide his own principles. If the movie is a little too glib for its own good, Eckhart’s performance is surprisingly human and that balances it out nicely. Give it a shot.

    And, I’d also like to point out that if there’s anyone who isn’t impressed by a book about Steven Seagal, I haven’t met them yet.

  3. I also liked THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. I keep it in the Business Assholes section of my DVD collection with MICHAEL CLAYTON and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.

  4. Chopper Sullivan

    March 15th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Being something of a depressed alcoholic asshole, this one hit it right on the head. Her chugging soda first thing in the morning to combat the dehydration from binge drinking. The embarrassing rambling display at the kids party. And showing that all it takes is one person justifying your shitty behavior to continue with it, despite all of the problems you may have.

    Great fucking movie.

  5. I third THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. Amusing cynical-transcending-into-feelgood flick.

    And I live for the cinephile’s high of seeing one good movie after pleasantly surprising movie.

    I still remember the night I saw PUNCHDRUNK, then snuck into THE RING. Both blew me away and I wasn’t expecting much. I live for such nights.

  6. I’m sorry, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE.

  7. Not to kill everyone’s buzz, but I’m going to throw a little but of cold water on the Thank You For Smoking love. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, but I remember thinking that the sentimentality that creeps in towards the end wasn’t deserved. I also had trouble with the Katie Holmes character. She’s treated like shit towards the end of the film, and I honestly don’t know why. Her moral lapses weren’t any worse than Harvey Dent’s. The only reason I could figure that the main character got to have a moment of redemption and Holmes didn’t was because Holmes was an adult woman without a child, and Harvey Dent had a daughter. His position as a father made it easy for the movie to sentimentalize him. Again, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the film, and maybe I would like it if I returned to the movie, but I remember these issues really bothering me.

  8. I’ve never read a young adult novel, but I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying entertainment that’s not part of your “age group” provided it’s still good

  9. Try and check out THE FUTURE. It’s a similar movie to Young Adult, thematically. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but it’s really ambitious.

  10. I hate to be the guy, but someone has to be it, you called Elisabeth Reaser’s character Beth, Buddy’s sister, when she is his wife. You probably just wrote wrong, but someone got to say it.

    The actress that played Patton Oswalt sister, was in Observe and Report where she was Seth Rogen’s love interest, and also worked worked for Patton Oswalt who was kinda mean to her, and Rogen kicked his ass. A funny notice.

  11. I discovered that you where mixing Collette Wolfe, who played Patton Oswalt sister, with Elisabeth Reaser (from Twilight) who played Buddy Slade’s wife.

  12. UP IN THE AIR was excellent. It seems like it’s going to be some cutesy, smart-ass rom com, and turns out to be an existential character study of the capitalism angel of death.

  13. Was expecting more of a comedy based on the trailer, which pretty much showed all six or seven actual “jokey” parts (checking into the hotel with the dog, the “His wife hasn’t seen me in a while” line, etc.) right after each other. When it turned out to be a drama I was actually pleasantly surprised, especially since it was so effective. The outburst at the end where it turns out she’s so much more broken than we thought really got to me. Great actress, Charlize. This should’ve gotten her an Oscar nomination.

  14. I went into this blind and not expecting anything and came out loving how subversive and true to life this ended up being. And there was not a single hipster thing I could really point out about it and any of the “typical” Diablo Cody smartass type dialogue that I’ve heard of from Jennifer’s Body or Juno was not present at all in any of the characters. If anything, all the characters were drawn with a level of subtlety that was great to watch.

    It’s just a fascinating look at a mean and almost cruel character who is simply deeply unhappy with how life has turned out for herself with her only real mark of pride being the ghostwriter of a series that is about to end. She hates the small town and the small minded people she left behind, probably for reasons that might seem shallow to anyone outside her point of view, but yet comes back on a mission that is deeply selfish and incredibly self-absorbed, all because she thinks it will make her happy. It perfectly mirrors the type of book she is writing as well, not to put a blanket on all YA books, which I think are mostly written by well-meaning authors who aren’t single-minded misanthropes with delusions of grandeur. Whatever delusions Mavis has, it’s all a cover for all that she feels she lacks.

    I could go on and on about what a great, riveting character Mavis is but you get the point.

    And yes, that final coversation was such a key moment… so tricky to pull off since it would undo everything that had happened before and allow Mavis to hold on to her bitterness and feel comforted by it. It was good writing and perfectly acted by both Charlize and Colette. Speaking of which, Colette was also in Hot Tub Time Machine, which is what I had seen her in previously when I had to look up why she looked so familiar.

  15. Jareth Cutestory

    March 16th, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I was going to write something about THANK YOU FOR SMOKING but realized that I’m confusing it with IN THE COMPANY OF MEN.

  16. I dunno Vern, “YA” is largely just a marketing category. Much of the stuff is great literature. I haven’t read Hunger Games, but a lot of literal-minded people say it’s actually good, and quite mature and violent at times.

    When I go the YA section at a local library, or at a book store, they have Hunger Games and Harry Potter on the shelf. But they also have most of the stuff from Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Tolkien, William Golding, etc. Many of the biggest all-time classics in worldwide literature get categorized as YA these days.

    I don’t think there is an exact definition of what is YA and what is not. The only constant characteristics I can see are plot-driven adventurous stories, lack of strong sexuality (many of the novels do have strong violence), and relative easiness of reading.

  17. I think this movie has just started in Theatres over here a few weeks ago. Damn, I hate it when they hold a movie back because of its Oscar buzz. (which it had, if you remember).

  18. Jareth: Let me clear it up for you. THANK YOU FOR SMOKING: Snarky, fun little comedy about freedom of choice. IN THE COMPANY OF MEN: Among the most grueling, corrosive, painful horror films ever made.

    See the difference?

  19. While I am not an alcoholic myself, I am married to one (she’s been sober for several years now, bless her) and I have seen some serious alcohol related bullshit. I have to say that this movie’s portrayal of alcoholism is one of the very best and most accurate I have ever seen. It’s subtle, honest and just very, very real (right down to the diet coke, as someone mentioned above).

  20. The funniest/saddest part of the film was when Mavis is visiting her parents and blurts out that she might be an alcoholic. And her real moment of self-revelation and a cry for help gets immediately ignored by her mom and dad who are more excited about a fake real estate deal.

    I don’t know if I’d call this a comedy, but there are some funny bits. But they’re comedic in a way that real life is comedic sometimes. It was very much an understated, and above all honest film. Possibly one of the best dramas I’ve seen in a long time.

    And all the props deservedly go to Theron. It was hell of an acting feat. It takes something of a small miracle for her to get undressed, and instead of making us feel lust towards one of the most beautiful women on the planet, we simply feel pity, sadness and compassion for her broken vulnerability.

  21. This was one of my favorites of last year. I agree, this was the best work done by everyone involved. And like you Vern, I was kinda rooting for Mavis to come out on top.

  22. Another satisfied YA viewer here. Juno haterz like me should give it a shot; I’m actually looking forward to what Cody does next, which was unthinkable a few years ago. Theron deserved a lot more attention for walking that charismatic/repulsive line without making a big Master Thespian show of it.

  23. I had no interest in this one (I generally prefer movies where people are catching elbows to movies where people are catching feelings) but you guys have convinced me to give it a shot.

  24. I watched this one on a whim with my mum & I was really shocked how much I genuinely enjoyed it too. So many valid criticisms for and against modern society in this film. I loved how openly horrible they allowed the main character to be. Mavis was an unrelenting force of ex-girlfriend crazy. Definition of a Hot mess. Best Charlize Theron role, man..

    I’m glad Vern agrees on this one. Good movie.

  25. So far Reitman’s 4 for 4. Give ‘Thank You For Smoking’ a go – I never saw the trailer, thus was unaffected by its potential smarminess, but I can vouch for the film; It’s not perfect, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t find something in there to make it worth your while.

  26. Speaking of Hunger Games, the review IGN gave it says it uses shakey cam. I now feel not guilty in my not giving a shit about it, as I did before due to “sounds too much like Battle Royale for me to get anything out of it”ness and “you can’t even make it R-rated, despite the fact it’s about KIDS killing each other?”itis, which I wondered was unfair. But now they’re going for a “documentary” type feel, so fuck this movie.

  27. HUNGER GAMES doesn’t appeal to me cause I’m not a teenaged girl. 2012 in general seems pretty meh mainstream movie wise. The Marvel Studios movies outside the first IM are all forgettable to me so I could wait on THE AVENGERS to hit TV tbh. Will see the new Batman cause of tradition’s sake (I even saw the Schumacher’s on the screen for christ’s sake) and not so much cause I care about it either. Won’t see THE HOBBIT. Only movie I care for this year and not just summer outside of some DTV is PROMETHEUS. I’m ready for that movie to completely blow my mind like right now.

  28. Oh and THE RAID. 2012 is all about THE RAID and PROMETHEUS for me. No other trip to the cinema will matter.

  29. YOUNG ADULT was pretty cool. For some reason I expected this movie to be like BAD TEACHER or something. Just filled with obnoxious characters but coming from somebody who usually wants to punch Patton Oswalt in the face I found myself charmed by all the principle players here. I didn’t even like Reitman’s other movies but yeah even though it screamed oscar bait a little too loudly sometimes it was one of the better ones in recent time.

  30. I wanted to see this before, but Vern’s review has put this into my “must see” category, if only for that description of her coming into town and seeing all the fast food chains and strip malls. I come from one of the more notorious Western Washington crapholes, and I confess that I am happy to have left, even though I probably have stronger, more sympathetic ties to family and some friends left behind than the Theron character has. As a teen, I often dreamed of “running away” via career from the area in my adult years, although I went a little further than my planned destination of Seattle.

  31. Mavis in YOUNG ADULT has the Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE character arc. Right at her lowest point, when it appears that she is convinced that she needs to change and become a better person, an easy out arrives and sends her right back to being horrible.

  32. I was looking forward to this one and I was happy with my experience. Narcissists are notoriously resistant to change, lacking insight with regards to their self created problems, so I was glad that a movie about one realistically depicted how messed up they are instead of going for the cheeseball redemptive transformation arc.

    Jeff Who Lives At Home is kinda similar in a mirror world opposite way with 2 brother characters going through stuff – Jeff, (Jason Segel), the stoner, and Patrick, (Ed Helms), the douche, but it’s sweeter and simpler, with less snark and cynicism.

  33. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 18th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    The weird thing is that I agree with almost everything Vern’s said about this movie, except the part about liking the lead character more than we’re supposed to. And yet it was the first dud of the year for me. Theron and Oswalt do FANTASTIC work in this. I’m not being sarcastic, they are brilliant. But I couldn’t wait for it to end. I kept fidgeting and waiting around to see if there was something, anything, that I could latch onto emotionally, and there really wasn’t.

    See… the issues people had with “Juno” weren’t issues for me. I didn’t mind the dialogue or the tone, at all. It was actually a refreshing change for me to see. What I particularly liked about it is that there weren’t really any completely unlikeable characters. There wasn’t an obvious “villain”. Everyone had good points and bad points. It got the best performance I’ve ever seen by far from Jennifer Garner (not that this is exactly a hard thing to accomplish, even on “Alias” I never thought she was remotely believable, but she was really good in “Juno”), good turns from J K Simmons and Alison Janney, and a great one from Ellen Page.

    I’m glad Vern pointed out the character twist though, because I thought that worked really well. Pretty much everything else I saw coming in this movie, but not that. So I give it points for that.

    But… Diablo Cody has gone from writing a great script with three-dimensional characters in a non-naturalistic style in “Juno”, to a good script but with no really likeable characters, for me. I don’t mind predictable movies – and it was VERY predictable – as long as I’m invested in the journey that the characters are taking. Here, though, I felt as though I didn’t want to be in the company of Mavis any longer than I had to be, and yet she was the centre of the entire movie. I don’t think this is a step forward for Cody. I might be alone in this opinion (heck, I usually am!) but I think it’s actually a massive step backwards. She wrote characters that I cared about in “Juno”. She hasn’t done it at all with “Young Adult”.

    Which is a pity because the stars bring their A-game to the movie, absolutely. I think it’s well-directed and pretty well-written, in terms of naturalistic dialogue. But until the very end it’s all very predictable and the journey with the characters isn’t one that I wanted to take.

    In short… first dud of the year, for me. I dunno. If you can get past the unlikeable characters this is a very good movie. I just feel that it’s a step backwards for all concerned except Oswalt and Theron.

  34. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 18th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    On the plus side, I am going to see another film that Mouth gave a rave review to – Martha Marcy May Marlene. Hopefully it turns out I like that one better than I liked this. Let’s see if I can find it in my heart to agree with Mouth 3/4 times instead of just 2/3.

  35. @ Pirate Paul

    Did you see Greenberg? That’s another one that’s similar to YA, with the unlikable main character and all. I don’t mind unlikable characters, because reprehensible villainy is usually more interesting on a story level than whatever the morally unimpeachable do.

    Martha etc is well done. Elizabeth Olsen does a stellar job depicting cult trauma, PTSD and mental illness, but the strength of the film is in the ambiguity of what all goes down storywise. It’s open to interpretation how much paranoia affects her actions and flashback perceptions. Downer flick for sure though.

  36. tuukka:

    I don’t think The Hunger Games and The Idiot should be classified by anyone. But then, I wasn’t a Lit. major.

  37. *should be group together or classified similarly by anyone. I also didn’t major in editing.

  38. I loved this movie, but I think it would have been much better if, “Guys like me are born loving you” were cut. We already know that, saying it out loud is a bit much.

    I’ve also dated the 19-year old version of Mavis. It’s a weird thing to get exactly what you’ve always wanted and then find out that it’s a nightmare.

  39. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 19th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Stefan – I’m deliberately going into MMMM spoiler-free. (Most confusing movie name EVER by the way.) Hopefully I get surprised.

    Also I don’t have a problem with unlikeable main characters on principle. I thought “Shame” (cock!) was great, and you really can’t get much less likeable than Fassbender in that movie. I just found nothing to latch onto with Mavis.

    Everyone – I’m sorry. I gotta be honest about this film. I really, really didn’t want to be the one dissenting voice on “Young Adult”. And I actually agree with a lot of your comments – particularly the person who said it was a good depiction of alcoholism. I don’t think this is objectively a bad film. I just am really disappointed that, after I was so engaged by Juno, the same writer / director combo managed to completely fail to engage me with this one.

  40. nabroleon dynamite

    March 19th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Good movie watching luck? Not until you see “The Last Circus”

    Patton Oswalt was great along with everyone else on the acting tip, but I just didn’t like this movie.

    Too many “white people problems” for me I guess. I just couldn’t relate to the shit.

  41. Am I the only one who accepted Nabro D’s “THE LAST CIRCUS will make your dick stop shrinking” challenge?

  42. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 19th, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Nabroleon – I know exactly what you mean. I can’t say I’m glad to not be the sole dissenting voice on this one though. This isn’t one of those movies where I’m frustrated that nobody else can see how bad it is or what it represents (eg, MI:3). This is one of those movies I really wanted to enjoy, but didn’t.

  43. Question, is the movie pro-Mavis or anti-Mavis? Thoughts? Personally, I liked how the movie is actually pro-marriage, pro-living in the suburbs and pro-mom rock.

  44. I believe the movie is pro-Mavis, but it does not approve of her behavior and expects more from her.

  45. Finally caught this one.

    Full disclosure: I am not a former prom queen. I was not exceptionally popular in high school. I did not date Patrick Wilson. I never particularly liked 90s rock.

    Other than that, though, I am Mavis.

    I moved away from my small town to the big city to get a writing job in a creative field that sounds real impressive but was actually kind of thankless. I felt sorry for people stuck in their hometown where there’s nothing to do except get married and make babies, never mind the fact that they found their lives incredibly rewarding while I spent most of my nights in my apartment, watching movies (not reality TV, thank God) instead of taking advantage of all the activities I supposedly moved to the city for. I feel weird and out of place when I go home, like I have to prove to everyone that I’m a fabulous New Yorker guy by wearing more fashionable clothes and having cooler hair, even though the coolest thing would be just to wear whatever’s comfortable and get over it. I don’t think I have a drinking problem but I probably smoke too much weed. And whenever I start getting down on myself and thinking about making some changes, there’s always somebody there to say, “Hey, don’t feel bad. You’re doing a lot better than a lot of people.”

    I’m not as crazy as Mavis, and hopefully not as miserable. But we’re cut from the same cloth. I got over a lot of that high school crap a long time ago, and I’m self-aware enough to keep my bullshit in check whenever I start looking down on people, but the instinct is still there. I’m the special guy who got out, and you’re not.

    Good movie. Painfully true, and hard to watch sometimes because of it.

    Wait a minute, I moved to New York, the actual Big Apple, not the Mini Apple they were talking about. So it’s totally different. I’m not like Mavis at all. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.

  46. At least you attained Mavisdom, I’m still a wannabe Mavis. This movie still makes me cringe though, in the same way Ricky Gervais in The Office makes a lot of people I know cringe. I find Brian in Family Guy kinda hard to watch too.

  47. There’s nobody in the film I could really relate to personally, even Buddy. The closest character I could probably relate to would be his sister. I could imagine myself asking someone the equivalent of Mavis (or even Mr. M) “please, take me with you out of this awful place”. But I knew the stereotypes well (I even remember when it was celebrated in my hometown when we got a Pizza Hut).

    http://www.slashfilm.com/jason-reitmans-all-female-live-read-of-glengarry-glen-ross-transcends-gender-with-brilliant-performances/

    Thought I’d pass this along. I’d have loved to have seen this (along with his all-black cast doing RESERVOIR DOGS).

  48. I think some of you are underestimating the ability of the Buddies of the world to empathise with Mavis. I’m probably closer to Buddy than Mavis (not in a small town, but family/suburbs etc) but I still related to Mavis and thought she was a great character. Arguments as to whether the film is Team Mavis or Team Buddy are particularly bizarre, as one of the great strengths of the film for me is that it recognises how married small town life IS limiting but provides it’s own comforts and rewards. It’s a surprisingly nuanced perspective that you don’t get too often.

  49. Yeah, I didn’t think the movie was taking a stand one way or the other. Buddy might have been happy in Mercury, but Mavis would have been even more miserable if she’d stayed in there and tried to do the suburban mom thing. It’s like Vern said, she figured out early on the kind of life she’d hate, but she didn’t come up with a workable plan to get one she’d like. The answer wasn’t “Move back home and enjoy the simple comforts of the decent, hard-working folk of small-town America” like some bullshit Reese Witherspoon movie you’d see on an airplane. There really wasn’t an answer, except the one she rejects, which is that it’s not everyone else that’s making you miserable, it’s you. You can move your ass to Minneapolis but what’s the point if you’re dragging the same old you around?

    Mode7: It’s funny that your first instinct was to be act like Patton Oswalt’s sister. There’s always somebody trying to make you feel better about yourself when what you really should be doing is working to change the things that made you feel bad in the first place. I’m not trying to get all maudlin here, because I’ve actually made some changes recently that I feel good about. So don’t cry for me. But the point is, if I’d have kept listening to people who thought my life sounded pretty swell compared to somebody else’s, I never would have made those changes, and I would have kept being miserable. I did it plenty of times. You have this epiphany that you think is gonna change everything, and the next day you get up and do the same damn things all over again. That ending was a bummer but man, was it dead-on.

  50. heh I wish I could say I did that on purpose but that would be a filthy lie.

  51. The ending was fantastic. I’m not one of those people who thinks that bummer endings are automatically better, but for this particular story it fit like a glove. Mavis’ experience may have changed her outlook a little but, like Mike Starr, she needs time to change. It was hugely depressing when I headed over to my Netflix-equivalent to give a glowing review and saw a wasteland of one-star reviews that said the “ending sucked”.

  52. What I learned from this comments section is that Paul and I officially live on completely different planets :). I almost never react in remotely the same way to anything as the guy. For example I thought Fassbender was a really sad and sympathetic character in SHAME.

    I wonder what it would be like to sit down and watch a movie with you. Would we unravel the very fabric of space and time?

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