‘Young Adult’ Review: Welcome Back to High School
I am extremely lucky to have seen this film with someone I went to high school with as I feel the conversation walking out of the theater would have been significantly less entertaining if I saw it with anyone else. This is because the characters in the film are extremely rich and will remind everyone of people they spent those four glorious/dreadful years with. That is the magic of Young Adult, it will transport you back to those years whether you like it or not, and no matter how you remember high school this movie has something for you to relate to.
As for me, I remember girls like Charlize Theron’s character, and I laughed at them then and continue to laugh at them now. Theron is so committed to the role that the script demands that even though she fails to have us rooting for her we still understand her. You will hate this
woman girl, and that is because of Theron’s dedication. She is wonderfully dark and emotionless, so much so that I began to roll my eyes at the silly high school drama taking place on screen. Her character is a writer of young adult novels which she reads to herself, in the form of voiceover, from time to time over the course of the film.
The rest of the cast feel pretty authentic as well. Patton Oswalt is particularly good as the obvious antithesis to Theron. Both of their characters have failed to grow up since graduation, yet they found themselves on opposing sides of the social spectrum beforehand. They work extremely well together as their unlikely friendship forms. Patrick Wilson is also pretty good as Theron’s old flame.
As for the plot, much like in high school, there really isn’t much of one, just annoying drama. Coming from director Jason Reitman, Young Adult works as an interesting companion piece to 2007’s Juno. Where the later saw teenagers showing more maturity than ever expected of them while they were still in high school, the former shows adults who failed to mature. Like Juno, Young Adult is sharply written with plenty of dark humor and genuine emotion.
But where Young Adult fails is consistency as it sort of makes up the rules as it goes along. Every time we think Theron’s character is about to learn something she pushes herself further towards full blown hatred by going against any form of moral code. Eventually it ends up being a coming of age story but should it be? No, probably not. It seems that the main character learns something in the end, but it also could just be another hiding spot from the grown up world. That veil should either have been opened completely or left untouched.
Young Adult will be interesting to those who remember high school in one specific way, but for those who know the many dimensions that make those four years so important in our growth, this film will offer little for them to ponder. (**1/2 out of 4)