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Young Adult - Blu-ray Review

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Young Adult - Movie Review


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4 stars

Four years after they struck cinematic gold with the oddball indie hit Juno, Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman are at it again, but this time minus the slangy clangor and stylistic flourishes for which they were so unfairly derided in the film that made it fun to laugh at teen pregnancy. Ironically, this time around in Young Adult, they’ve arguably created a better film, but one that won’t be as celebrated.

The dynamic duo of indie filmmaking continues to dabble in the awkwardness of the high school years, but they replace the subject of unwed pregnancy with that of failure to launch following graduation and drag us along for the ride as a late twenty-something former prom queen, now psycho bitch, named Mavis (Charlize Theron) heads back to her small town of Mercury, Minnesota to reclaim what she thinks was rightfully hers: high school sweetheart Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).

Now a ghostwriter of a series of young adult novels that has run its course, a bitter alcoholic, and simply a miserable mess of a self-centered human being biding her time in a cluttered downtown Minneapolis apartment, Mavis doesn’t concern herself with the fact that Buddy is happily married. After all, why would he have sent her an e-mail announcing the birth of his baby if he didn’t want to reconnect, right? She sees it as a call to pack up her small dog, load the Mini Cooper and hit the road to rescue Buddy from his horrible fate that is certainly worse than death. Though her physical beauty is still intact, we soon realize there was never much inner poise or discriminate sophistication to begin with. Nor much common sense.

We’ve seen rom-com heroines make the vanity trek in many films before, proudly skittering back to their small town to prove to others how much they’ve moved up and on.  But this is a Diablo Cody story. We know it’s never going to be predictable and it’s certain to leave us squirming in our seat with awkward interactions between characters that have dark agendas and mixed intentions.

While waiting for her initial encounter with Buddy, who thinks she’s just passing by to say hello, Mavis is paid hardly a second glance by the locals, despite the slinky black formal number that would drop ‘em dead in any place other than a buffalo wings beer joint in the middle of Minnesota. She does however, attract the attention of Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), the high school outcast she only remembers as “hate-crime boy” because of the beating he took in high school that left him with a limp and some unmentionable damage to his penis.

Matt is a doughy, mama’s boy more comfortable tending his action-figure collection or garage still whiskey operation than he is worrying himself with attraction to the opposite sex. But an unlikely bond forges between Matt and Mavis as his contemptuous world-view is perfectly matched with that of Mavis. He too is resentful and cynical, but he’s also actively trying to be positive about his life in his own dark way. Even though they are at opposite ends of the physicality spectrum, Mavis and Matt find common ground not in what they both like, but in their disdain and rejection of the exact same things. Theron and Oswalt display some form of quirky chemistry that makes us admire their unlikely connection. Over drinks Mavis shares her secret mission to save Buddy from his miserable existence.

Mavis’ deceitful quest to recapture her fleeting high school popularity becomes a maddening but enjoyable watch as Reitman unrolls the story at a slow-burn pace, titillating the audience with what it knows will eventually be a full-blown disaster. Still, when the climax arrives, it does indeed prove to be an unsettling watch, yet one not without its share of unexpected jaw-dropping surprises.

As unlikely as it all seems, the film simply works. Cody reels in her jangly Juno-esque dialogue significantly, but the result is that Young Adult isn’t quite as funny as Juno. But what it foregoes in humor is replaced by a very realistic depiction at what a standard romantic comedy would look like in real life. Theron makes her Mavis a lost soul to root for. She’s the girl we love and hate in equal measure.

A pep talk delivered by Matt’s live-in sister (Collette Wolfe) turns out to be a resounding epiphany that strikes a perfect tone for both Mavis’s redemption as well as the film’s climax. Of many ways to end the film, the one chosen turns out to be not only the least expected, but also the most real and satisfying we’ve ever seen from a Hollywood rom-com. Then again, this is Reitman and Juno. What did we expect?

{2jtab: Film Details}

Young Adult - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.
: Jason Reitman
: Diablo Cody
Jason Patrick; Charlize Theron Patton Oswalt; Colette Wolfe; Elizabeth Reaser
: Comedy | Romance
Everyone gets old. Not everyone grows up
Memorable Movie Quote: "Psychotic prom-queen bitch!"
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: December 16, 2011
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details yet available.

Synopsis: Academy Award winner Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson). When returning home proves more difficult than she thought, Mavis forms an unusual bond with a former classmate (Patton Oswalt) who hasn't quite gotten over high school either.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Young Adult - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 13, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Paramount’s widescreen (1.78:1) 1080p transfer is – like the movie – close to perfection, but just this side of greatness.  Reitman shot the film digitally and most of the color has been stylistically “scrubbed” out.  The MPEG-4/AVC encode can’t do much to pepper the natural tendencies of this puppy to look a little dull and soft.  Vague comes to mind, but there are some nice moments of detail.  The picture just doesn’t look as crisp as it should have.  Close-ups are the key here and when Reitman allows the camera to peer into the soul’s of the script’s characters, what comes alive for the transfer are shots of facial detail that work well.  A lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound keeps the drive in tact with a design that is based around a dialogue-heavy movie with only a few brisk quips from Rolfe Kent’s score and a 90’s rock soundtrack.



Special Features:

What the supplemental material lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for with quality.  To start things off, the six finished but deleted scenes - You Busy?, Good Boy, I'm Blocked, Munchies, Huge Shared Dream, and Are You Happy, Mavis? - add a bit more depth to Theron’s character with humorous and interesting comments/situations that highlight the idea that she is “blocked” person.  Nice inclusion right there.  In “Misery Loves Company”, the cast and crew talking about how the post-modern darkness appealed to them. “The Awful Truth: Deconstructing a Scene” puts us front and center for a bar scene between Theron and Oswalt.  A solid nearly hour long Q&A with Reitman and Janet Maslin rounds out the collection.  Here, the topics range from beginning to end of Young Adult after a discussion of Reitman’s career.

{2jtab: Trailer}


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