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One Hot Mess: In Young Adult, Charlize Theron proves growing up is hard to do 

A character study on the hardships of growing up.

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What you need to know about Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman's new film Young Adult is that it's a dark comedy. I know you saw the trailer, and yes, as advertised, there are parts that will elicit laugher, but this isn't you're average, run-of-the-mill joke fest. While the title may be Young Adult, the humor goes more sinister than Cody's Oscar-winner predecessor Juno. The humor in that film, while edgy, definitely stayed more in the young-adult realm, while Mavis (Charlize Theron) brings out a more sinister, adult side of Cody's humor and psyche.

If nothing else, Young Adult sharply depicts a character whose life appears to be golden to those looking in from the outside, but actually it crumbles beneath her while she drinks at near-alcoholic levels and watches an incredibly sad amount of programming on the E! network. Mavis may have a badass condo in the big city (that city being Minneapolis) and be a published author of a young adult book series, but her marriage failed, the series, for which she doesn't even get credit, nears it's end and to top it all off, her former high school flame, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), just became a father. So, naturally, she returns to small town Mercury, Minnesota, to try to win back the happily married Buddy.

Upon arriving, she runs into Matt (Patton Oswalt), a dorky guy she went to high school with who suffered from a debilitating beating during his senior year that left him handicapped. The relationship between Matt and Mavis, while a bit surprising, is also endearing in that they both have yet to grow up. The rapport between the two carries the film with their quirky relationship providing a safe haven for brutal honesty.

Theron's comedic abilities both surprised and delighted me. I can't think of another primarily comedic film in which Theron played an even remotely funny character (outside of her time on Arrested Development, of course) and she scores big with both her comedic abilities and her strong acting chops. Theron hits the necessary humor chords, while also breathing humanity into Mavis' pain. Of course, she also has Cody to thank for the incredibly articulate and precise screenplay and her hot mess of a character.

Young Adult dares to be different from the typical fare we're normally offered at the movies in that Mavis doesn't learn any life changing lessons that inspire her to seek help or alter her ways. In the end, Young Adult should be seen as a character study that stridently portrays a flawed individual, who despite her faults, holds a certain amount of humanity in her despicability.

Young Adult

4 Stars

Starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson

Directed by Jason Reitman

Written by Diablo Cody

Rated R

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