Young Adult, the latest from Hollywood Next-Gen’er Jason Reitman and his second pairing with Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, is a complex, compelling and, often times, creepy character piece focusing on an alcoholic author, the ginchiest of clichés admirably played by Charlize Theron, who decides to reclaim the former greatness of her life by hooking up with her former true love in her hometown. The catch being, of course, that said ex-love is happily married and, naturally, a new father. Bitterness and ignorance ensues.
Reitman’s fourth outing gives Theron’s Mavis plenty of screen time and Cody’s dialogue shifts between the outrageous and the depressing. Unfortunately, the harmless supporting cast neither amplifies or compliments Mavis’ behavior resulting in more-than-a one-sided tale that drains away the sarcastically-cool hip-factor Reitman is used to showing. Patton Oswalt’s pop-culture nerd, although the most likable of the cast, is nothing more than a shade of a character from a Kevin Smith film (albeit nowadays, all of Smith’s characters are shades, perhaps truly proving that you can’t go home again), and never gets daring. Patrick Wilson, the former flame, is a boring flicker of impotence, married to Elizabeth Reaser’s forehead, a nag who would make a nice enough neighbor when not practicing on her drums.
Young Adult flirts with the fish-outta-water template and presents an exaggeration of opposite lifestyles but the story’s outrageous flavor needed some habanera. Mavis is both pitied and laughable but perhaps a little too real. Reitman and Cody made a fun, watchable film around an otherwise depressing character, but a few more extremes would have resulted in a few more laughs, intentional or not.