Saturday, January 7, 2012

Monkey at the Movies: Young Adult

Despite losing the AMC gift card intended for Mr. Remarkable Monkey, we ventured out to the cinema on Monday to see "Young Adult". (Before noon, of course, when it's only $6. That's how we roll.)

Written by Diablo Cody ("Juno") and directed by Jason Reitman ("Juno", "Up In the Air"), the film is darkly humorous. A ghost writer for a young adult book series, Mavis Gary (played by Charlize Theron) is struggling  with her personal demons. A former high school cheerleader, she is now divorced, her teen book series is coming to an end, and she's having a difficult time meeting deadlines for the last installment of the collection. When she receives a birth announcement from her old high school sweetheart, Buddy (played by Patrick Wilson), Mavis begins a slow spiral into the depths of desperation. She decides to visit her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, with a plan to steal her former beau from his wife and new baby, thinking that somehow that will magically make her life "perfect" again.
While in Mercury, she develops an unlikely friendship with former classmate Matt Freehauf (played by Patton Oswalt), who has demons of his own. Theirs is truly a dysfunctional relationship, though it seems EVERY relationship Mavis has is dysfunctional. She is a seriously unlikable character, totally self-absorbed and lacking in social morality, though it becomes evident that this is partly because she is so damaged. Her breathtaking beauty belies the repulsive mess inside. Charlize Theron plays her to perfection, almost eliciting sympathy... you can see the pain and self-doubt just behind the narcissism and pettiness. In the scene with Buddy's wife's band, you can almost feel her heart breaking. (Watch it yourself and you'll see what I mean.)

As she spins further and further out of control, you wonder if she'll ever get herself together. No spoilers here... you'll have to watch the movie to find out.

I will say this: It struck me that this film is a great example of what can happen when one gets stuck dwelling on the past and former glory. It ain't pretty. Keep moving forward, friends... happiness doesn't live in the past.

Monkey at the Movies rating: It's broodingly amusing, and fun to see Charlize Theron play someone so deliciously flawed. I'll give it 3.5 out of 5 bananas.

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