Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Review of "Young Adult" or Why I Needed This Movie Right Now

I was joking on Twitter with my buddy Nick that Young Adult should be titled Jessica's Movie.  Anyone who knows me at all, whether IRL or not, knows that I love YA and I love quirky, awkward movies.  My want to see this movie was a no brainer.

Needless to say, I loved this movie in all its uncomfortable, awkward, realistic and unrealistic glory.  What I didn't realize was that it would leave me feeling elated and depressed, a brilliant mix of sad/happy in the best way.  As I walked across the parking lot immediately post-movie, I was overwhelmed with the urge to simultaneously laugh and cry, both hysterically.  

Here's the part where I try to explain myself...

Mavis Gray, the "heroine" of the film, is a YA (ghost) writer for a series that has seen more popularity in its past than it's seeing now.  In fact, her series is being cancelled, and she's currently working on the last story.  She lives in Minneapolis in a high-rise apartment with her Pekingese, she drinks Diet Coke and all other alcoholics beverages fairly heavily, she hates her life just as much as she loves it, and, after receiving a birth announcement email, she becomes obsessed with winning back her high school boyfriend, even though he's happily married with a brand new baby girl.  Mavis sees all of these facts as non-important, as things he can overcome, because she knows deep in his heart that he's just as unhappy as she is and that all will be fixed when they are together.  So she returns to her small Minnesota hometown to win Buddy back, fully believing that she will be successful in a matter of days.

Clearly, Mavis is mentally unstable.

That's the beauty of Mavis, though.  Her instability is so far out there, but it's so relatable as well.  I'm not saying that I want to win back anyone from my past (because, uh, do you see who I married?  SO the man for me!!) but that yearning to recapture a time when you felt invincible certainly sounds appealing.  Throughout the course of the film, she is absolutely out of control, vindictive, brash, bawdy, inappropriate, and totally unlike anyone I actually know in real life... but I feel like I know what she's going through.

Becoming an adult is painfully hard and extremely awkward, especially becoming an adult outside of the town in which you grew up, especially when you grew up in what's considered a "small town."  While my hometown is technically Richmond (not a "small town" by any stretch of the imagination), I grew up in a small district that operated just as a small town operates.  Because of this, whenever I return to this part of Richmond, I have a tendency to return to the Jessica of those days of yore.  This is partially of my own volition due to years of feeling that this is the Jessica that people expect, but also... I feel I have to be the Jessica they expect.

Recently, I have been thinking about my personal Arrested Development very often, wondering why I do this, wondering why people treat me this way, wondering why I allow people to treat me this way.  I think that everyone obviously grows and changes and adapts as time goes by, and this growth and change and adaptation should be acknowledged and allowed rather than looked at with confusion.  I should be allowed to be my true self, no matter what version of Jessica you've met along the way.  And I shouldn't be chastised for being myself.  Frankly, if you don't like what I say or how I act or who I am... then why are you friends with me?

...Am I still talking about the movie?  Sort of.  Let's get back on track, shall we?  Great.

Charlize Theron is just incredible in this, giving life and layers to a character that could so easily be one-sided and awful.  You're not supposed to like her, but you do just as much as you don't.  And Patton Oswalt?  Oh. Wow.  Perfection.  I really want him to win all the awards for this.  ALL of them.  The script is pitch-perfect, as I expect from Diablo Cody, and it all fits together just as it should.  It doesn't end all wrapped in a little bow, but that's exactly how it should be.  I cannot think of another way to say it, but I loved it.  I really, really needed this movie in my life right at this very moment.  Not only because the girl at the ticket counter ACTUALLY CARDED ME to make sure I was over 17. Seriously, that happened.

In short, I predictably and unpredictably adored Young Adult.


  1. You know Jess, I realized I like you even more now that you're 30! It's a compliment and not an insult in anyway~

  2. Love, Lynn Montalvo

  3. Love this post and love YOU! ps. want to see the movie too!

  4. "Becoming an adult is painfully hard and extremely awkward, especially becoming an adult outside of the town in which you grew up, especially when you grew up in what's considered a "small town.""

    YES YES YES. this is MEEE as well.

    i'm cheap and will probably rent this from redbox when it's available. :-P