‘Young Adult’ Most Brutally Funny Movie of the Year

by Eric Melin on December 15, 2011

in Reviews,Video Reviews

This review originally appeared in shorter form on KSNT-NBC, KTKA-ABC, and KTMJ-FOX, Kansas First News.

YOUNG-ADULT-poster-2011The new dark comedy Young Adult is just plain nuts—it’s a high-wire act without a net.

Young Adult, written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), features Charlize Theron as Mavis, one of the most thoroughly unlikable characters in recent memory. That and its refusal to follow the formula of most comedies of its ilk, is what makes it so special. Mavis is trying to steal back an old boyfriend from high school (Patrick Wilson) right at the moment his wife has delivered a newborn baby.

Mavis writes a series of books for young adults, and maybe she’s so good at that because she’s never actually escaped high school herself. Theron’s character is self-obsessed and downright hilarious. Blissfully unaware of her own contradictions but fully aware of her beauty and status, she talks like she’s in the girls’ locker room no matter where she is.

Luckily, Patton Oswalt is on hand to be Mavis’ sympathetic foil. His presence helps ease the pain of watching Mavis do horrible things and being privy to her selfish inner monologue. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a tortured soul who is capable of dwelling in his own dark places as well. As a bullied former classmate of Mavis, he’s the least likely person for her to relate to, yet the two of them form a bond, whether Mavis wants to admit it or not.

Both actors commit fully to their roles, and their underlying desperation keeps Young Adult from becoming a one-note sketch. In fact, Young Adult is the most brutally funny movie of the year — a truly fearless and subversive joy from start to finish. The movie opens in wide release next weekend.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa December 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

Nice review, Eric. I look forward to watching this movie. I’ve heard Patton Oswalt is amazing! (And Charlize Theron is always good.) Just to throw in an interesting tidbit, I read that Diablo Cody’s husband compared her to the character Mavis, to which she first rebutted and then replied that indeed she and a lot of people are like Mavis (narcissistic, obsessed with the past, etc.).


2 Eric Melin December 9, 2011 at 11:41 am

Great tidbit–thanks! Yeah, I kind of looked at this character the way I would Larry David on “Curb Your Enthusaism” — it’s a more selfish version of himself with the filter completely removed. That seems like it would apply to Cody here too…


3 Reed December 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Good review, Eric! I am now looking forward to this one.


4 Josh December 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

alright, i’ll bite.


5 Nathan December 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

Thanks for getting me to the movie, Eric! You’re right about enjoying “Young Adult” in a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” way. That said, it and curb absolutely twists my guts and gets me laughing my ass off. Mavis’ sort-of-comical wooden resolve to get Buddy back and never-ending contempt for Matt got a little tiring. However, Mavis’ struggles made for a lot of self/acquaintance-introspection and a bonus was that, like in life, no-one really changes. I would have been pissed had she found her soul and became humane in the end.


Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: