Young Adult

Film
2 out of 5 stars
Young Adult

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Three out of four ain't bad. After a trio of movies that nabbed ten Academy Award nominations, plus an Oscar for screenwriter Diablo Cody for the treacly slangfest Juno, seriocomic auteur Jason Reitman delivers his first misfire. It's not his fault, completely: The direction is crisp, the performances compelling, and the overall tone light but mournful. What's left? Ah, yes: The script.

Reitman reunites with Cody for this cringe-comedy tale of nominally famous teen-book author Mavis Gary (Theron) and her vain attempt to woo her small-town ex-boyfriend (Wilson) away from his wife and newborn daughter. The premise is intriguing, but the follow-through is lazy: In the place of real people with real problems, we get emotionally schematic situations, e.g., a blowup at a baby shower, and characters like Mavis's unlikely confidant (Oswalt), a wounded soul literally crippled by high school, who walks with a crutch and has a distillery in his garage. (Yes, that role is as painfully quirky as it sounds). Cody's fixation on adolescent drama does take a less cheeky turn here, but while one might be tempted to call it mature, that word suggests a capacity for self-evaluation and unsentimental levity. Both Reitman and his first-rate cast do their best to add depth. The real tragedy of Young Adult, however, is the story's lack of tragedy.

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