Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 154 Ratings

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  • Summary: Mavis Gary is 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. When returning home proves more difficult than she thought, Mavis forms an unusual bond with a former classmate who hasn't quite gotten over high school, either. (Paramount Pictures)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 42
  2. Negative: 1 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Dec 14, 2011
    It's the most unsettling nice surprise of 2011.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 8, 2011
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Dec 7, 2011
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Dec 9, 2011
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Dec 4, 2011
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Dec 15, 2011
    Though marketed as a comedy, this film is too creepy and acerbic to be consistently comic.
  7. 30
    The movie spreads bad vibes like a virus.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 60
  2. Negative: 13 out of 60
  1. Mar 2, 2012
    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 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. Expand
  2. Oct 4, 2012
    charlize theron is the reason of me to watching this movie. she is rare beauty in hollywood without make ups or lighting effect. story and acting is suprisingly good and even though plot is not lengthy or clever, this movie made me think about what a life is. Expand
  3. Jan 3, 2012
    I always wondered what happened to that girl from high school. You know the one, her locker was right next to yours for four straight years, but she never knew your name. She spent more time staring into the pocket mirror attached to the inside of her locker than at any of her classmates. She was homecoming and prom queen, she was socially above the common man, and all she wanted to do was see your small town in her rearview mirror as she escaped to the big city after graduation. Luckily for us, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody have reconnected (they first worked together on Juno) to let us know exactly what happened to that girl from high school.

    Mavis (Charlize Theron) is now 37, lives in Minneapolis, and is a ghostwriter for a young adult series (think Sweet Valley High) whose popularity is in severe decline. She wakes up every morning severely hung over from the night before, ignores her pocket-sized dog, and always has a dating website open on her web browser while she attempts to writer her next chapter just in case she gets a notification of a potential match. In other words, Mavis is not doing very well. An unexpected e-mail shakes her out of her stumbling stupor one morning when a birth announcement arrives from her long ago high school ex-boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson); he is now the father of a brand new baby girl.

    Events are now set in motion as Mavis impulsively packs a suitcase, drives a few hours to her old and small hometown, and aims to break up Buddy and his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser). With no evidence whatsoever, Mavis just knows Buddy is unhappy in his marriage and longs to be rescued by the one girl he was meant to be with, Mavis. She considers the institution of marriage as a disease, a problem which can be cured through a quick divorce. Mavis also brings her old habits back to town with her; she continues to wake up slobbering drunk every morning, wears revealing clothes which would not only seem out of place in Minneapolis, but downright foreign in small town America, and whether intentionally or just plain out of habit, talks down condescendingly to anyone who never left town the way she did.

    While guzzling one of her many double whiskeys at a local dive bar one night, Mavis runs into Matt (Patton Oswalt), a guy who she barely remembers from school. Matt reminds her his locker was right next to hers for four years and through a combination of proximity and drunkenness, Matt becomes Mavis
  4. Jan 27, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Mavis Gary could easily pass for a much younger woman, but she gives herself away, soon after receiving a baby announcement from an old beau via e-mail, in the opening sequence of Young Adult. A person in their twenties, disdainful of old media, would be satisfied with keeping the image on the screen. Today's generation aren't as hands-on as prior ones, who were raised on Polaroids and Kodak. Mavis downloads the infant. She prints it out, because people of a certain age are tactilely-oriented; they like to hold things. Mavis goes outside on the patio with the papery child and reads the documented photograph like a text. She deconstructs. The fanciful woman reads between the lines, and against the grain, thereby deluding herself into believing an alternate narrative in which Buddy needs to be rescued from the domestic trappings of a small-town she surmises as being hell. Mavis is a searcher. Not for nothing does Young Adult evoke Native Americans through her old school's nickname. Mavis loathes the Mercury townsfolk, or in other words, Indians(formerly the "Injuns"), whom she abandoned so long ago. The filmmaker sees her as a John Ford cowboy; she's Ethan Edwards(John Wayne) and Buddy is her "Little Debbie"(Natalie Wood), the "hostage" that she's going to take home with her. 2011 is the new 1956. The MINI Cooper is her horse. Quite pointedly, the first line of "The Concept" makes reference to her outlaw image: "She wears denim wherever she goes." Later in the song, the lyric "says she likes my hair 'cause it's down my back," suggests the Indian in Mavis, since long hair for Indians is representative of a strong spirit. Her old flame's short hair, in a sense, empowers Mavis with the idea that Buddy will put up no resistance against such practiced feminine wiles. "The Concept" was the signature track off one of Buddy's old mix-tapes that Mavis plays repeatedly on her long drive back to the "reservation". He must have owned the album Bandwagonesque. Incidental or not, the root word "bandwagon", defined as "a wagon which carries a band of musicians in a parade," has connotations to the old west, through the traveling show "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", put on by William Frederick Cody, who also starred in The Scouts of the Prairie, an 1876 stage play that gave birth to the western myth. Mavis' bout of obsessive nostalgia over the Teenage Fanclub song not only has a harmful effect on her emotional development, but it also calls into question our affection for the past, a troubled history filled with unrepentant racism. As late as the early-nineties, this fictional high school used a racial slur to identify themselves. In The Searchers, Debbie, a full-fledged member of the Comanche tribe, is married to Scar, as are several other women. Beth, Buddy's wife, perchance, plays the drums(an instrument that is heavily prevalent in Native American culture), and wears a Breeders t-shirt(a "half-breed" reference), in an all-woman band that indirectly references the Comanche chief's wives. By covering "The Concept", Nipple Confusion steals the song back from the cowgirl, who appropriated it as the song of the "white woman" when she left Mercury. Now the song belongs once again to its rightful owners. Suddenly songless, the hopeless, albeit psychotic, romantic, perhaps, with some distance, now realizes that "The Concept" smacked more of being a break-up song. "I didn't want to hurt you," goes the refrain, which raises the question: Exactly why did Mavis leave her old stomping grounds? In The Searchers title song, the singer asks, "What makes a man to wander? What makes a man to roam?" At a baby-naming ceremony, we find out, when Beth spills red wine on Mavis' blouse(read: the Indian slays the cowboy), propelling the big-shot city girl to reveal that she had lost Buddy's baby, which casts this flinty woman in a whole different light. At 20, while still a young adult, Mavis was apparently ready to bear children, unlike Juno, or Mark Loring, the adoptive parent who flakes out on the titular teen. Uncannily, Mark just happens to be a perfect match for this thirty-something adolescent, with his comic book collection and rock star aspirations. To escape the pain of her personal loss, she fled. It's no accident that Mavis befriends Matt, "the hate-crime guy", upon her return from Minneapolis. She dovetails with the disabled survivor, because it should've been him, not the queen bee, who needed reinventing. Mavis could have gone on to rule Mercury beyond high school, in perpetuity, and be perfectly happy. The queen bee invented her ambition. Still grieving, Mavis doesn't realize that, by some standards, she's led a very successful life. But despite being a published writer, motherhood still haunts her. Playing a monster without the makeup, Mavis would have never given Aileen Wuornos the time of the day, but like the serial killer, all she ever wanted was to be loved. Expand
  5. Apr 24, 2012
    A story a little loose and unreal, it was not surprising, entertaining though! but to be a comedy-drama, had very little bit of comedy. Charlize Theron pride! great performance. Expand
  6. Dec 17, 2011
    So who did the producers of this movie pay the license fee for the "man-child" format, which they have used in this Charlize Theron vehicle? They should have made sure they had a few dollars left over to punch up the script with some comedy, or at least some dialogue, which seemed in short supply for a number of stretches. Man-children are usually a little round around the edges - Ms. Theron belts bourbon and scarfs KFC and could bounce a quarter off her navel. The kinship between Theron and the male man-child in the film, townie geek Patton Oswalt, seems a vehicle for speeches, rather than at all believable. Unless the message is that booze makes all things possible - maybe I should have had a couple pops before taking in this offering. The difference between the comedic tone of the trailer and the dramatic - or rather, non-comic - tone of the movie is pretty startling. The audience does not get the promised laughs, and messages were never the strong suit of the man-child format. Expand
  7. Mar 25, 2012
    There are no redeeming elements to this story whatsoever. The story tries to find some aspect of heartfelt emotion only to display awkward unbelievable moment after moment. With incomprehensible situations that leave the viewer cringing. By the climax you are holding on with a last thread of investment for some type of redemption for this waste of time only to be utterly disappointed. Expand

See all 60 User Reviews


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