Rated R for being a Diablo Cody movie. That means that there's a lot of hip swearing going on throughout the movie. Similarly, this is one of those movies about pretty girls being terrible people. That means that Charlize Theron will do some absolutely horrible things, often using her sexuality to get what she wants. She drinks like a fish and has the worst morality imaginable. That being said, that's the point of the movie. If you didn't want to watch something like this, turn away now. R.
DIRECTOR: Jason Reitman
This is the story of how I'm an idiot and need to have my film blog taken away from me. I've seen this movie before. Yet, I watched a lot of this movie before realizing that I've seen it before. That's no good. I mean, at the end of the day, I was still questioning if I had seen this movie or whether I was just really good at predicting which way this story was going to go. It was actually just confirmed at the IMdB page when I realized that I confused Young Adult for Tully and now feel like a big ol' moron. It all started because of my free month of EpixNow and now I felt like I had to binge this movie before my account ended. Regardless, it was kind of new to me and I now realize how old I am.
When I saw who was in this cast, I nearly lost my mind. I wonder what it is like being Patton Oswalt. I mean, I never want to step into someone else's shoes so flippantly, but he seems like he dabbles in all of the things he likes. But as much as I love Charlize Theron in this movie, there's nothing shocking about her performance. I mean, it's Charlize Theron. Of course she's going to nail it. But it's so bizarre that Patton Oswalt has such impressive acting chops and no one will ever point it out. Mind you, he has become a bit of a character actor. He's always going to play the nerdy second fiddle to a handsome male lead. It might be a bit much to make him a guy who makes Star Wars bourbon and crafts his own action figures, but sometimes a movie needs to use broad strokes to get a point across.
I think that when I wrote about Juno, I may have touched on this point. I am seriously concerned that I wouldn't get along with Diablo Cody. This is based on my entirely unfair assumption of her personality. Perhaps she really does just have a remarkable ear for dialogue and uses that to write characters that are nothing like her. But Mavis kind of reads as an avatar for Diablo Cody. I mean, Stephen King does the same thing by constantly making his literary characters authors. It seems like the safest way to write authentically, just changing the name of the character. But Cody keeps writing stories about women who kind of want to see the world burn. I mean, we all love Juno. (That statement is far from true. I know so many people who loathe this movie. I don't. I really like it.) But the titular character has a bit of a mean streak in her. Jennifer's Body, also a movie about a mean main character (I don't remember enough about the movie to determine if Megan Fox's character was a protagonist or just an antagonist to someone else. I'm telling you, I'm either losing my memory by having seen SO many movies or it's Diablo Cody specific) who is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. But Mavis Gary reads the most authentic to potentially the real person.
It's kind of how we keep having these main characters who are awful human beings to the people around them, yet still come across with a modicum of sympathy. Juno was born sympathetic. She's a teenager who is dealing with a lot, which gives her a little bit of leeway when she's being toxic to others. But Mavis somehow still becomes endearing. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that Mavis is so clueless to reality that she just comes across as kind of pathetic...which is the point of the movie. Remember, my thesis for this whole thing is that Mavis Gary reads like an avatar for Cody herself, but that might actually endear me to Cody more. It's not shocking that writing acts as therapy for a lot of people. Heck, I had a pretty annoying day and I'm writing to feel accomplished. Cody keeps setting her characters in alcohol-fueled shame-spirals. We're all aware that her choices come across as really really dumb. Yeah, her book series is basically dead. But she did something that I have always wanted to do. (I'm thinking of potentially writing something new this summer, but me-writing this is really Willy Loman of me, so I should probably just keep that under my hat. Again, no one reads this.) Cody created this person who has the most backwards self-worth imaginable. She finds all of her value in the things that a high schooler would. She's too cool for this world not because of having genuine talent, but because she's always been more gorgeous than the world around her. That's why Buddy makes sense. He's a guy who actually grew and found true value in the small things.
And Young Adult touches on the thing that kind of makes it really interesting with the Buddy / Mavis juxtaposition. I mean, we have Matt as a foil as well, but Buddy and Mavis were the same person. They were the king and queen of the school. And Buddy never really grew out of his town, but he did find his place in the world. He found someone who liked him for who he was, not by how popular he was. He found his own success and he loved it. Instead, Mavis kept looking at what she didn't have. She didn't have a successful marriage. She didn't have a book series anymore. But instead of nourishing her gifts, she decided to take back what she deemed was rightfully hers. It's an interesting tale because Sandra vocalizes it to her directly: everyone wishes that they were Mavis Gary. Hey, I wish I was Mavis Gary. I mean, I am very happily married and her life just seems so toxic. But everything that is wrong with Mavis's life is of her own doing. Honestly, a good therapy and a couple of trips to AA would probably make Mavis's life extremely attractive.
But, again, this all makes me worry about Diablo Cody. I don't know why her writing always seems autobiographical when no one else's writing does the same thing to me. I mean, I could do a really quick Google / Wikipedia search and confirm or deny all of these things. But Cody, like Woody Allen, makes it hard to divorce the art from the artist. With a writer like Diablo Cody, I don't know of any scandals that would come out of having a toxic personality, but I do always wonder why she keeps going back to the toxic femininity well. I mean, it might just be because it works. Her movies are compelling and interesting. I've heard people complain that her work is too clever by half, but I disagree. She strikes this nice balance of cleverness and catharsis that Is hella watchable. Yeah, I wish I remembered that I watched Young Adult prior to looking it up. That probably doesn't earn it points. But I also don't remember years of my life. Honestly, if I time traveled and observed my first thirty-seven years from a third-person perspective, I'd be grateful if I recognized a fifth of it. And I'd like to point out, I probably wouldn't even like the stuff I'd seen. But the movie really works. I love the chemistry with all the characters. I like the music and the hipster cred that Diablo Cody brings the movie. I think that Jason Reitman is a talented as heck director, so what have I to complain about? The movie works, plain and simple.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.