Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 42
  2. Negative: 1 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Dec 14, 2011
    100
    It's the most unsettling nice surprise of 2011.
  2. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 8, 2011
    100
    A dark comedy that confirms Diablo Cody as a screenwriter of importance, eliminates the last shred of doubt that Jason Reitman is a major director and gives Charlize Theron her best showcase since "Monster."
  3. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Dec 7, 2011
    91
    Young Adult bumps along with nasty swerves, middle finger proudly in the air, toward an ending blessedly free of anything warm, fuzzy, or optimistic. Now that's adult entertainment.
  4. Reviewed by: S.T. Vanairsdale
    Dec 12, 2011
    90
    Young Adult is the first of Reitman's films from which I haven't felt him choking out a message; ironically, its rawness yields the humanity that he thought he was wringing from "Up in the Air."
  5. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 8, 2011
    90
    When it's done right, as it is in Young Adult, there is something absolutely mesmerizing about watching a train wreck unfold on screen. When the wreck in question is a narcissistic beauty played to scheming, sour, downward-spiraling perfection by Charlize Theron, cringing is definitely called for, but so is laughter.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 8, 2011
    90
    A cockeyed comic triumph that flashes between bright and dark like a strobe light of the spirit. And Ms. Theron, as Mavis Gary, a self-styled author rather than a mere writer, succeeds sensationally at something much harder than playing ravaged.
  7. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 8, 2011
    90
    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.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Dec 4, 2011
    90
    Reteaming pop-savvy scribe Diablo Cody with "Juno" director Jason Reitman, Young Adult revels in breaking the rules of safe Hollywood storytelling.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Dec 16, 2011
    88
    Clear-eyed, fearless and ferociously funny, Young Adult is mature filmmaking.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Dec 7, 2011
    88
    Patton Oswalt is, in a way, the key to the film's success. Theron is flawless at playing a cringe-inducing monster and Wilson touching as a nice guy who hates to offend her, but the audience needs a point of entry, a character we can identify with, and Oswalt's Matt is human, realistic, sardonic and self-deprecating. He speaks truth to Mavis.
  11. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Dec 7, 2011
    83
    Reitman lets the pop-culture references (oh hi, 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up") accessorize the story rather than guide it, and in its uncompromising treatment of a character who's troubled but also a stone-cold bitch, Young Adult offers compassion for rather than revenge on the "psycho prom queen" who has nothing left in life but a warped mix-tape from an ex who moved on long ago.
  12. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Jan 30, 2012
    80
    Smart, honest, sickeningly funny and supremely well judged in the writing, direction and acting.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Dec 15, 2011
    80
    Young Adult is a horror movie disguised as a dark comedy.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 9, 2011
    80
    Young Adult may at times be stuck between emotional gears, but that's by design. Like its heroine, the movie refuses to pick up after itself.
  15. Reviewed by: Dan Kois
    Dec 8, 2011
    80
    Young Adult doesn't fully work, but it's still one of the year's most memorable movies.
  16. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Dec 6, 2011
    80
    Young Adult might be brushed off as curdled rom-com were it not for two things. The first is the depth of Theron's performance...The second, less predictable aspect is the utter absence of the corny rehabilitation found in "Juno" and Reitman's glib, downsizing dramedy "Up in the Air."
  17. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Dec 16, 2011
    75
    In reality, in this age of cookie-cutter entertainment, the movie's success probably is because of Cody's unconventional script. This isn't a silly, disposable, rom-com -- and thank goodness for that.
  18. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Dec 15, 2011
    75
    A pitch-black comedy steeped in bitterness and regret.
  19. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Dec 15, 2011
    75
    Diablo Cody wrote Young Adult, and it's an improvement over "Juno," her first script.
  20. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Dec 15, 2011
    75
    It's funny, in a can't-look-away-from-the-train-wreck way, and it's brutally honest. But it's not pretty.
  21. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Dec 14, 2011
    75
    A fat streak of melancholy courses throughout Young Adult - who would have guessed the sight of a Kentaco Hut, one of those one-stop conglomerations of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, could be this depressing?
  22. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Dec 9, 2011
    75
    So it makes sense that Young Adult feels at times like a mashup of styles and genres - part curdled rom-com, part psycho-prom-queen flick, with a little "Revenge of the Nerds" thrown in.
  23. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 9, 2011
    75
    It also boasts a killer breakout performance by comic Patton Oswalt as a former classmate who becomes Theron's unlikely co-dependent and sometimes co-conspirator.
  24. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Dec 8, 2011
    75
    Pairing again after the mad success of "Juno," Cody and Reitman prove a canny team when it comes to capturing frank yet polished modernity, getting at truths of the here and now even if a certain excess of gloss denies them the full Americana humanism of someone like Alexander Payne.
  25. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 8, 2011
    75
    In this tale of stunted development, Theron is a comic force of nature, giving her character considerable density and humanity despite her monstrous aspects.
  26. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 5, 2011
    75
    With self destruction as destiny, Reitman has made the equivalent of a Roland Emmerich disaster movie writ small, an apocalyptic scenario internalized by a single person.
  27. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Dec 4, 2011
    70
    Their scenes together are the film's best, with Theron and Oswalt, who have very different tempi and temperatures as performers, parrying and thrusting with great expertise.
  28. Reviewed by: Kate Erbland
    Nov 22, 2011
    70
    Cody's snappy, spot-on writing and Reitman's clear-eyed direction should suit audiences looking for a black-as-night dramedy with bite.
  29. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Dec 15, 2011
    67
    "Juno" was accused (wrongly, in my view) of having things both ways: being cute and cynical, edgy and sentimental. Young Adult, despite the fun afforded by Theron and Oswalt, seems content to have things neither.
  30. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Dec 15, 2011
    67
    One of the freshest and most original movies around right now, though caveat emptor: This may not be enough to make it likable.
  31. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 12, 2011
    67
    The filmmakers may be just as clueless as Buddy when it comes to Mavis, who resembles nothing so much as a snooty stalker.
  32. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Dec 15, 2011
    63
    Though marketed as a comedy, this film is too creepy and acerbic to be consistently comic.
  33. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 8, 2011
    63
    While on sardonic turf, it's scathingly funny. Then it veers from biting wit to pitiful. At one juncture, the story threatens to spin off into "Fatal Attraction" territory.
  34. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 8, 2011
    63
    Cody would likely acknowledge she's working through her own contradictory feelings toward her protagonist - and that she may have been a draft or two away from shaping those feelings into a terrific black comedy, rather than a pretty interesting one.
  35. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 7, 2011
    63
    For most of the movie, Cody and Reitman jape at her until, in the last 20 minutes or so, they attempt to turn her into an object of sympathy. It doesn't work and, on balance, neither does Young Adult.
  36. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Dec 15, 2011
    50
    Plays precariously close to an unfunny sociopathic case study.
  37. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 8, 2011
    50
    It's a fatiguing, low-key character study that drags along annoyingly and pleads for patience, but stick with it and you'll find the engrossing centerpiece performance by Ms. Theron a captivating reward that is well worth the effort.
  38. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Dec 8, 2011
    50
    By turns amusing and annoying, Young Adult could be the flip side, plus the sequel, of "Juno."
  39. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Dec 8, 2011
    50
    Whether the character is supposed to be a stand-in for Cody, who grew up in the western 'burbs of Chicago and has since won an Oscar, is more than I can say, but the movie suffers from the sort of self-pitying fog that can envelop a writer when he dives into his own malaise.
  40. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 8, 2011
    50
    Humor is notoriously subjective, of course, but I didn't find Young Adult especially funny. It's an intermittently engaging fable of American homecoming that's both intentionally and unintentionally awkward, and flavored from bitter to sour all the way through.
  41. Reviewed by: Stephen Garrett
    Dec 6, 2011
    40
    Both Reitman and his first-rate cast do their best to add depth. The real tragedy of Young Adult, however, is the story's lack of tragedy.
  42. 30
    The movie spreads bad vibes like a virus.
User Score
6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 154 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 60
  2. Negative: 13 out of 60
  1. Dec 10, 2011
    7
    I probably watched about half of this film through my fingers on both hands - there are more than a few cringe-worthy moments - but in a goodI probably watched about half of this film through my fingers on both hands - there are more than a few cringe-worthy moments - but in a good way. It taps into some truly genuine feelings we have about high school, whether or not you're part of one of those pre-defined groups (popular, nerdy, jocks, drama, etc.) It's not a perfect film, and it won't go down as one of the best in the genre, but it's absolutely worth seeing. Elizabeth Reaser is terrific in it in a smaller role. And Patton Oswalt is PERFECT casting here - the ideal person to serve as the truth-teller that Mavis (Theron) needs. It's not an unqualified recommendation, but if you went to high school in the late 80's / early 90's, it should ring true for you Full Review »
  2. Mar 2, 2012
    10
    Young Adult touches so close to home for me, not being able to let go. One can't help but to ponder and contemplate the supposedly gloriousYoung Adult touches so close to home for me, not being able to let go. One can't help but to ponder and contemplate the supposedly glorious days of the past and reflect on our past mistakes, on what could've been and what should've been. The opportunity that we're given now in the present is all that matters. The past is in the past, we just have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get ready for what lies ahead. Our best years are still ahead of us, it's time to look into the future, start a new chapter. Life, here I come. Full Review »
  3. Mar 9, 2012
    5
    I was beginning to think that Jason Reitman could not get a foot wrong. But he did by reteaming with the one hit wonder writer Cody DiabloI was beginning to think that Jason Reitman could not get a foot wrong. But he did by reteaming with the one hit wonder writer Cody Diablo who although gave him the wonderful Juno, in her new script for Young Adult, she goes to the zone where it is neither funny, nor dramatic enough. And besides the exceptional performance of Charlize Theron and his apt directing, this falls quite short of the high standards he has set and achieved in the past. Full Review »