Young Adult

Young Adult Information

Young Adult is a 2011 American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman, from a screenplay written by Diablo Cody, and starring Charlize Theron. Reitman and Cody worked together previously on Juno (2007). Young Adult had a limited release on December 9, 2011, and a wide release on December 16, to generally positive reviews.


Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a divorced, 37-year-old ghost writer of a series of young adult novels, who is on deadline with her editor to finish the last book of the soon-to-be-cancelled series. Mavis receives an e-mail with a picture of the newborn daughter of her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser). Believing this to be a sign she and Buddy are meant to be together, Mavis leaves Minneapolis and returns to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, to reclaim her life with Buddy, under the pretext of overseeing a real estate deal.

Upon arriving after multiple listens of "The Concept" by Teenage Fanclub on an old mixtape Buddy gave her in high school, Mavis arranges to meet him the next day at a local sports bar, for old times' sake. In the interim, she goes alone to a different bar, Woody's. There she reconnects with a former classmate she barely remembers, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), who became partially disabled after being beaten by jocks who erroneously assumed he was gay. Matt tells Mavis that her plan to destroy Buddy's marriage is irrational and selfish, but she ignores him.

The following day, Mavis meets Buddy at the sports bar, where they run into Matt, the bar's bookkeeper. On their way out, Buddy invites Mavis to a performance of Beth's "mom rock band". In the interim, Mavis spends another night getting drunk with Matt, who distills homemade bourbon in the garage of the house he shares with his sister Sandra. When Mavis attends the concert of Beth's band, the other moms are resentful of Mavis, who they remember as the "psychotic prom queen bitch". When Beth's band performs, the lead singer dedicates their opening song to Buddy from Beth; much to Mavis's dismay, it is "The Concept".

Beth wants to stay out longer, so Mavis offers to drive the drunk Buddy home. On the lawn they share a kiss that is quickly broken up when the babysitter opens the front door to greet them. The next day, after an awkward encounter with her parents, Mavis is invited to Buddy's daughter's naming ceremony. She later goes out drinking with Matt again, during which Matt tells Mavis to grow up. The following day, Mavis attends the party, where she declares her love for Buddy, but he rebuffs her. Everyone at the party is called out to the lawn to await a surprise Buddy has prepared for Beth. Mavis, who has been drinking at the party, collides with Beth, who accidentally spills punch on Mavis's dress. Mavis insults her, and in a profanity-laced tirade tearfully reveals she became pregnant with Buddy's baby years ago, but had a miscarriage after three months.

Buddy, who has been preparing a drum-set gift for Beth in the garage, opens the garage door and belatedly learns what has transpired. Mavis asks him why he invited her. He reveals it was Beth's idea, as she feels sorry for Mavis. Humiliated, Mavis leaves the party and visits Matt, where she breaks down in tears and, later, initiates sex. The following morning, while Matt sleeps, Mavis has coffee in the kitchen with Sandra, who still idolizes her. Mavis talks about needing to change herself, but Sandra says Mavis is better than the rest of Mercury and should not change. Mavis says she agrees, and prepares to return to Minneapolis. Sandra asks to go with her but Mavis declines and leaves alone.

In a diner on her way home, Mavis writes the last chapter of the book, in which the main character graduates high school, quickly leaves her past behind and looks forward to the future. Afterward, in the parking lot, Mavis contemplates her crumpled car.



Screenwriter Diablo Cody said the genesis of the film came from her encounters with the press:

Writing a spec script, she sent drafts to her friend and Juno director, Jason Reitman, to critique. When the production of Labor Day, a film Reitman had been preparing, was pushed to 2012, a window developed during which he could direct Cody's script, which was shot on a $12 million budget in 30 days. The movie did location shooting in Minnesota, with the bulk of the movie, set in the fictional town of Mercury, shot north of New York City in the towns of White Plains, Nanuet, New City, Tappan, Ardsley, and Port Chester, and in the Long Island towns of Garden City and Massapequa Park, the last of which included Woody's Village Saloon. A few days were also shot on a soundstage at JC Studios in Brooklyn.

After Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson were cast, Patton Oswalt was signed after doing a table read-through of the script at Reitman's house. Oswalt said that because his character, Matt Freehauf, had been badly beaten as a teen and was required to walk with a brace, he consulted with both an acting coach and a physical therapist to prepare for the role: "I just wanted less and less to have to think about so I could be more present in the scenes with Charlize. She's a really instinctual actor and I really didn't want to be sitting there with eight other thoughts on my head while she's just rolling with it."

Young Adult was screened out of competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.

Critical reception

The film has received generally positive reviews, scoring 80% positive reviews out of 173 from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. It also received a score of 71 out of 100 from Metacritic. Its consensus states: "Despite its somewhat dour approach, Young Adult is a funny and ultimately radical no-holds-barred examination of prolonged adolescence, thanks largely to a convincing performance by Charlize Theron."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, writing "After I left the screening of Young Adult, my thoughts were mixed. With Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air, Jason Reitman has an incredible track record. Those films were all so rewarding. The character of Mavis makes Young Adult tricky to process. As I absorbed it, I realized what a fearless character study it is. That sometimes it's funny doesn't hurt." Tom Long of The Detroit News wrote "Young Adult may be the year's most engaging feel-bad movie." A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film, writing, "Shorter than a bad blind date and as sour as a vinegar Popsicle, Young Adult shrouds its brilliant, brave and breathtakingly cynical heart in the superficial blandness of commercial comedy." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "In this tale of stunted development, Theron is a comic force of nature, giving her character considerable density and humanity despite her monstrous aspects. And Patton Oswalt deserves cheers as Matt, a former classmate who pops Mavis' delusions with soul-crushing honesty. His dark duet with Theron is funny, touching and vital. But fair warning: The laughs in Young Adult leave bruises." Richard Roeper awarded the film an A grade, stating "Charlize Theron delivers one of the most impressive performances of the year."

The film also appeared on many critics' lists of the best films of 2011.

Awards and nominations

Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result
American Cinema Editors February 18, 2012 Best Edited Feature Film " Comedy or Musical Dana E. Glauberman
Central Ohio Film Critics Association January 5, 2012 Best Actress Charlize Theron
Best Original Screenplay Diablo Cody
Best Supporting Actor Patton Oswalt
Chicago Film Critics Association December 19, 2011 Best Supporting Actor
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 12, 2012 Best Actress Charlize Theron
Best Original Screenplay Diablo Cody
Best Supporting Actor Patton Oswalt
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association December 16, 2011 Best Actress Charlize Theron
Golden Globe Award January 15, 2012 Best Actress " Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Hollywood Film Festival October 24, 2011 Screenwriter of the Year Diablo Cody
Los Angeles Film Critics Association December 11, 2011 Best Supporting Actor Patton Oswalt
National Society of Film Critics January 7, 2012 Best Supporting Actor
Palm Springs International Film Festival January 7, 2012 Chairman's Vanguard Award Jason Reitman (director)
Diablo Cody (writer)
Charlize Theron (actress)
Patton Oswalt (actor)
Santa Barbara International Film Festival February 3, 2012 Virtuoso Award Patton Oswalt
Satellite Award December 18, 2011 Best Actress - Motion Picture Charlize Theron
Toronto Film Critics Association December 14, 2011 Best Supporting Actor Patton Oswalt
Writers Guild of America Award February 19, 2012 Best Original Screenplay Diablo Cody

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