Unenlightened Young Adult

Charlize Theron comes home to rot in YOUNG ADULT.

Dark comedies are so hard to do, and when done right they will appeal only to a limited audience.  The latest Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody concoction, Young Adult, is one such film.  Those looking for a laugh-out-loud “Hot Chick Gone Bad” riot better look elsewhere.  Those looking for a painfully honest character study should sit down and have a drink.  Anchored by a scathingly deadpan turn from Charlize Theron, Young Adult is as sharp as a tack and will burn in your throat like a shot of home-distilled bourbon.

Charlize Theron is Mavis Gary, a recently divorced semi-successful ghost writer for a once popular series of YA novels (both the series and Mavis are past their prime) who is spurred to return to her “hick” hometown when she receives an email announcing the birth of her ex-boyfriend’s baby.  Mavis Gary joins a solid line of Jason Reitman anti-heros/anti-heroines (just like the lead characters in his Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air) – people who think they have life all figured out, hold steadfast to their sense of self and of the world around them, and then are thrown for a big loop.  Charlize Theron fully inhabits this character (according to interviews, she played Mavis as if this were a drama), and although she physically looks like a more frazzled version of her real-life smoking-hot self, she still puts her whole body into the role with the same gusto she used to become a serial killer in Monster.  Theron must have the worst agent in Hollywood with all the crap she has been in (Aeon Flux anyone?) but every so often she turns in performances in movies like this that make you think if she had a better agent she could be the female Daniel Day-Lewis.  Theron gets that lost in her best characters – and Mavis is one of them. Continue reading

Advertisements

Up, Up and Away

A staggered release schedule, the mother of all blizzards and those pesky holidays kept me from heading out to the theaters to see Up in the Air until this weekend…finally.  I’m a few weeks behind the buzz on this one, so I doubt I’ll be able to add anything new to the discussion, but I’ll never shirk my duty to recommend something worth your time and money. Up in the Air comes in for the landing as advertised — how nice for a change!  Continue reading

A Review of Jason Reitman’s “Juno”

Ellen Page and Michael Cera: Finally, a teen movie where the kids look like real kids. 

For Realz, 17 December 2007
8/10

Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

Ellen Page (in a star-making performance) plays an accidentally pregnant smart-alleck 16 year-old named Juno (named after the Roman goddess, not the town in Alaska) in the latest hyper-smart comedy from Jason Reitman (director of “Thank You for Smoking”). “Juno” follows the latest Hollywood trend of quirky comedies that actually deal with some heavy issues. Unlike most of those films, “Juno” manages to stay funny even as it gets serious and treats its characters and audience with respect by keeping the jokes coming even as it gets cutesy or plays for tears.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody (a pen-name destined for greatness) has a knack for writing hipster dialog that doesn’t wear thin or get annoying. She manufactures big laughs from both quasi-goofy pop culture references and nervous situations inherent to adolescence. She keeps things fresh even when the film starts showing its sweet side. Think of her as Judd Apatow without as much of the raunchy humor. Director Reitman gives the film the appropriate indie-feel and populates the movie with a great soundtrack of songs whose lyrics perfectly match Cody’s storyline and dialog.

Ellen Page is eternally likable in the lead role, and the decision Juno makes in the end feels totally organic and true to her character, giving the film a ring of truth instead of feeling manufactured to make the audience feel good. Michael Cera proves again to be one of the most amiable and subtly funny young actors working today. His performance is a perfect companion piece to his more overtly hilarious work in the riotous “Superbad”. The rest of the supporting cast is equally likable, and even Jennifer Garner, and actress who always seems to try so hard, seems perfectly cast here as an adoptive mother-to-be who tries way too hard.

Though not as laugh-out-loud funny as most of Apatow’s films, “Juno” swings as one of the best of the quirky indie-comedies of the past five years. It’s funny and has a heart, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it like “Little Miss Sunshine” did, and instead, thanks to Ellen Page and Diablo Cody, feels like the real deal.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0467406/usercomments-57