Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter.
Writer: Diablo Cody
Starts: Charlize Theron Patrick Wilson and Patton Oswalt
Run time: 94 Minutes
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn
Someone please help this woman out! The whole movie we watch as Charlize Theron plays the spiraling downward protagonist Mavis in Young Adult and no one, including her, is there for her when she obviously needs someone. Mavis is a very unlikeable character loaded with problems and most of the time with booze who is a writer for a once popular young adult book series. She lives in Minneapolis, the big city, but decides on a whim to return to her small (Fictional) hometown of Mystery Minnesota to reconnect with her now married with a child high school boyfriend.
The storyline leads you to strongly dislike the main character and really, even the storyline. But it is interesting. Charlize Theron plays the part perfectly, she is miserable in everything she does and even when she is obnoxiously bragging about her mildly successful book series, you know that she is sad inside.
In interesting connection is made when Mavis runs into her old high school locker neighbor Matt Freehauf played by Patton Oswalt. Mavis wouldn’t even have remembered Matt if it weren’t for the fact that he was beaten so badly in high school by the jocks because he was thought to be gay that he was crippled from the waist down. It was labeled a hate crime, until they found out that he wasn’t actually gay. Despite their proximity during High School, Matt was invisible to the more popular Mavis who spent more time staring into her locker mirror than ever looking at the crippled “theater fag” Matt. Although he is living along with his sister and his life on cruise control, constantly musing over about his high school years, he quickly becomes the most relatable character in the movie. As Mavis and he drown each other in their sadness, he is the only person who speaks the truth, telling her that what she is doing is terrible, and that she needs help. He also brightens the movie with some laughable moments as Patton Oswalt is capable of doing.
The reason why I plead at the beginning of this review for someone to help her out is because I think that the movie boils down to a person longing for some meaning in her life. Mavis doesn’t seem to realize it as she sets out on her mission, but I think that deep inside she knows she needs some straightening out and that is why she makes this trip home in the first place. She is very aware of her alcohol problems, even announcing “I think I may be an alcoholic” during a dinner with her parents that draws nothing but a light discarding chuckle. She also is very aware of her problems later in the movie when sitting at the table with Matt’s sister. But again is only encouraged by a person in awe of her mild career success.
The movie written by Diablo Cody (Juno) and directed by Jason Reitman (Thank you for Smoking, Up in the Air) isn’t a movie that is going to put anyone in a great mood leaving the theater. The main character puts herself, and the audience, over and over again in uncomfortable situations and you leave without anything really being resolved. It is however well written, after contemplation, there are many more layers than what I first saw. It is very well directed, and performed perfectly by all of the actors involved. I couldn’t think of anyone to play Mavis and Matt better than Theron and Oswalt.
Sitting in the full theater just outside of where much of the movie was shot in Minneapolis, I was a little curious of the crowd reaction at times. I was bothered when the audience started cheering as they recognized some city shots, but I was more confused at the sporadic laughing throughout the film. There are moments when the movie is funny, but overall I thought that people were giving a somewhat uncomfortable chuckle because they were starved for comedy in this widely disheartening film. I don’t think anyone needs to run out and see this movie immediately, but do check it out, at some point, just don’t expect a great time at the theater!