I could not stand Juno, so rushing out to see stripper turned screenwriter Diablo Cody’s follow-up wasn’t high on my list. I was very lukewarm on Up In the Air, so laying down the Amex for director Jason Reitman’s follow-up didn’t happen.
But throw Charlize Theron into the mix and suddenly Cody’s writing sounds spot on. Thankfully, Reitman knew well enough to get out of the way and keep the camera still. Young Adult is a very special film indeed. And the slinky South African owns every inch of it.
Hard to believe that it’s been nearly ten years since Theron won the Oscar playing the ultimate unsympathetic character, real life Monster, serial killer Aileen Wuornos. I’m pretty sure I was not alone in scratching my head at the notion that I was watching the same actress who Tobey Maguire found laying on his cot in The Cider House Rules.
This may come off as hyperbole, but she is almost as unsympathetic in Young Adult, portraying the small town golden girl who went off to the big city, only to slither home like a snake in the grass to reclaim her high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson).
Having made a “name” for herself as a ghost-writer for a young adult book series, ‘Mavis Gary’ is some kind of miserable train wreck. With her book series folding, she sets her sights on going back to small town Mercury, Minnesota and stealing her ex away from his new wife and baby daughter. She doesn’t even tell her parents she’s coming home. She holds them, and the whole sucky little town, in contempt.
Once home, she finds a bitter ally in ‘Matt Freehauf,’ played brilliantly by long time unheralded character actor, Patton Oswalt. ‘Matt’ was severely beaten in high school by homophobic jocks (“The ones you were blowing in the parking lot,” he says to ‘Mavis’), and now walks with a cane and claims to be less than a man in the department of genitalia.
The dialogue between ‘Mavis’ and ‘Matt’ crackles with brutal honesty and surprising tenderness.
But the scene that cements Theron’s claim as more than just a magazine cover girl and perfume Goddess, is when she drunkenly confronts the super sweet wife of her ex at their baby-naming party. Watching this mature actress put her ugliest demons on display is a real thing of beauty. I loved Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, and felt she fully deserved to win the Academy Award for her work; but as great as she was as Margaret Thatcher, I’m not sure it comes close to the honesty Charlize Theron unearthed in Young Adult.
YEP – Steven Spielberg enters the comic book animation world with a bang. The Adventures of Tintin is visually spectacular and will immediately take you back to the popcorn joy of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not so coincidentally, Tintin was released on the 30th anniversary of Raiders.
Spielberg has owned the rights to the comic book since 1983.
The ubiquitous Andy Serkis (King Kong, The Lord of the Rings trilogy as ‘Golem’), delivers another rich voice performance, as does Daniel Craig as the film’s so-so villain. My kids thought Jamie Bell’s voice didn’t fit the title character, and I kind of agree. It’s a tough thing to put your finger on with these animated films. When it works you know it. When it doesn’t…I defer to my children.
The story is not all that tight, but Tintin makes for a fun movie night with the ragamuffins.
Here’s a good review from Go&Do if you want a little more before you rent.