Movie review: Young Adult

From the December 15, 2011 edition

Mavis Gary was one of the popular girls. In high school she had the perfect boyfriend (named Buddy), she was voted “best hair” and she generally ignored everyone she deemed beneath her.

“Young Adult” is about Mavis as a 37-year-old shadow of her former self. Played by Charlize Theron, Mavis is the uncredited author of a soon-to-be-canceled young adult book series. She’s divorced and living in a shabby Minneapolis condo, and her only companion is a Pomeranian that she largely neglects.

When she gets an email announcing the birth of Buddy’s daughter, she returns to her hometown of Mercury to reclaim him and have the life she thinks she was destined for.

Unlike their previous heroine in “Juno,” director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody haven’t created an adverse scenario for their plucky hero. “Young Adult” is so compelling because Mavis is simply unlikable.

In her quest for Buddy (Patrick Wilson), she refers to his happy marriage to Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) and new child as “baggage” that they can beat together.

The only person that sees her with any clarity is former classmate Matt (a brilliant Patton Oswalt), another stunted adult.

Matt attempts to be the voice of reason for Mavis, but her total lack of awareness has her headed for one inevitable fate.