Now Playing: More Juvenile Crap from Diablo Cody

While I fully respect Jason Reitman for having the ability to uniquely and beautifully put moving images on the big screen, he’s got to quit making Diablo Cody’s screenplays into movies. He’s better than that. It’s time for him to leave her too-cool-for-school overrated scripts behind and get back to making more movies like ‘Thank You For Smoking’ and ‘Up in the Air‘ – the brilliant stuff. With ‘Young Adult’, Cody has once again dragged him down to producing a well-made waste of time.

In a comedic drama, you expect a reasonable amount of believability from the characters, story and themes. Unfortunately, while ‘Young Adult’ falls into that genre, it doesn’t deliver a single one of those things.

First, the central character Mavis (Charlize Theron) is not only unlikable, there’s not a single person so daft, self-absorbed or insanely stupid on the face of the Earth without serious mental health issues – which is not the way she’s portrayed nor the issue at hand. If you’ve seen the first twenty seconds of the trailer, you’ve gotten a taste for the absurdity of the character. If you thought that scene was dumb, that’s only the beginning. It gets worse.

Mavis is a ghost writer for a series of fading young adult (or Y.A.) novels from the small fictional town of Mercury, Minnesota. (Great job metaphorically telling us the town is poison, Diablo. Learn that in Screenwriting 101?) Now living in the “Mini Apple,” Minneapolis, she’s become a directionless drunk with writer’s block. When her high school sweetheart Buddy (Patrick Wilson) emails her a picture of his newborn child, Mavis slips into a depression, because she realizes that he’s living the life they dreamed of as innocent teenagers – only with another woman.

For some unclear reason, Mavis believes that if she returns to Mercury, Buddy will instantly fall in love with her the moment he sets eyes on her again. Then the two can run off together, leave their jobs and families behind to live happily ever after. In her mind, it’s that easy.

When they finally meet up, Buddy shows absolutely no interest in reconnecting with her, and constantly mentions how much he loves his wife and baby. Yet Mavis is somehow convinced that he wants to run off with her. It’s not like there are mixed signals here or anything; she’s just bat-shit crazy. From there, the entire thing spins out of control and eventually crashes and burns. What’s the moral of the story, the purpose of this film? Who knows? It’s never clear. Most importantly, who cares?

Fortunately, besides Reitman’s directing, ‘Young Adult’ has one other redeeming quality: Patton Oswalt. On Mavis’ first night back in town, she slips off to a small bar to feed her alcoholism and runs into an old schoolmate (Oswalt) who was severely beaten during senior year and left using crutches to get around. Oswalt is the source of all the truly worthy laughs during ‘Young Adult’. He’s the only actor who isn’t trying to play out the “cool” factor of Cody’s characters. It’s like he leaped off the stage of one of his comedy shows, as opposed to one of the pages of Cody’s hipster scripts – and he’s hilarious.

Just like Reitman is better than Cody, you are better than ‘Young Adult’. Don’t listen to the pretentious hipster reviews out there that call it a “mature new direction for Cody” where she “refreshingly dives into mind of a misanthropic female antihero.” It’s crap. Pure douchebaggery.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆


  1. JM

    Can you name the top ten female screenwriters off the top of your head?

    What are your ten favorite movies written by women?

    • I don’t interpret Luke’s criticism having anything to do with Diablo Cody being a woman, so much as her being an annoying hipster whose characters all speak too-clever-by-half dialogue.

      Personally, I liked Juno, but that was despite the writer’s affectations, not because of them.

      • JM

        Diablo Cody is a female Kevin Williamson.

        But she’s only 33. In screenwriter years, she’s a toddler.

        Working with Jason Reitman provided her with mentorship.

        Whenever a young writer is partnered with a talented director it is always a good thing. That the free market is supporting her evolution is also a good thing. There is a shortage of quality screenwriters in Hollywood. We need to build them. ‘Young Adult,’ as an investment, with a low level of risk, is a good thing.

        Diablo Cody, twenty years from now, might be worth it. No one knows.

        Without ‘Sexual Perversity In Chicago’ there is no ‘Glengarry Glen Ross.’

        Investing in female screenwriters could help evolve the medium of film.

          • JM


            99% of Hollywood scripts are bullshit.

            And it’s scientifically proven that men and women create different flavors of bullshit.

            Personally, we all agree that Hollywood needs more variety at the bullshit level. If the movies can’t be good, at least try harder to make them feel unique.

            It’s like when women started creating pornography for women. Most of it sucked, but in a different way. The porn philosophers started deconstructing techniques and intents that they had not previously considered. Evolution by way of female insanity. And now we have cinematic sweetness like ‘Suicide Girls Must Die!’

            The US Government should be subsidizing an affirmative action program for female screenwriters, paid for by taxing all films that make more than $250M at the box office worldwide.

            And every year on the 4th of July there should be a $250M-budget science fiction action film that is written, directed, and enacted entirely by lesbians.

            It baffles me that in the year 2011 I still have to type sentences this obvious.

  2. Luke Hickman

    Yikes! Off the top of my head, it’s tough to find 10 – but I guess that’s the point of you posing the question. Hollywood is still a Boy’s Club.

    But please don’t make the mistake of assuming that I’m raking Cody over the coals. She’s a fluke that shouldn’t be existing and she’s going to destroy the Evil Dead remake.

    I can say that my favorite female screenwriter and director is Nicole Holofcener. She’s fantastic. It was real treat when I got to participate in the press day at Sundance for Please Give. She and the rest of the cast were awesome to talk to.

    • JM

      Nicole Holofcener is an interesting favorite.

      How strongly do you love her films?

      Please Give
      Friends with Money
      Lovely & Amazing
      Walking and Talking

      Would any of these be in your Top 100 Greatest Films Of All Time?

      • Luke Hickman

        100 Greatest of All Time? Probably not.

        I’ve never seen Walking and talking, but I actually rank them in the same order you listed.

        • JM

          Her first job in the industry was as production assistant on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.’

          She then moved up to apprentice editor for ‘Hannah And Her Sisters.’

          Can you imagine having Woody Allen as your first professional mentor?

  3. I’ll never understand the Cody/’Juno’ hate. Cody gets skewered with using hip, new dialogue in her movies but when Tarantino does it it’s lauded as brilliant screenwriting.

    • Luke Hickman

      Her dialog isn’t a problem here, it’s how cool, arrogant and self-centered her leads are. Tarantino’s use of speech may be cool, but it’s not this unintelligible hipster lingo – but none of that appears in Young Adult.

    • M. Enois Duarte

      Same logic applies when discussing her popularity: I will never understand all the Cody love. Personally, I like ‘Juno.’ It was clever and witty at the time, but she’s quickly turning it into a schtick. I haven’t enjoyed anything she’s done since, and especially find her aggravatingly annoying in the Red Band Trailer series.

      Far as I’m concerned, she’s a one-note fluke that just came along at the right time with the right script. Aside from Luke’s take, ‘Young Adult’ is gaining some good buzz. However, most of that revolves around Reitman’s directing and the performances of Theron and Oswalt, not so much on Cody’s script. This just could be another slick-looking, well-made dramedy but with the same hollow, soulless emptiness as ‘Jennifer’s Body.’

      I will check it out when the time comes, but not excited.

      • EM

        People often turn sharply against those who have gravely disappointed them. Perhaps there hasn’t been much in the way of high expectations for Ms. Fugate.

  4. Mrs. Z

    I agree that there just aren’t enough female voices out there. However, I just caught up with Lena Dunham’s ‘Tiny Furniture’ over the weekend and I’m hopeful for the future.

    BTW…’Walking & Talking’ is one of my favorite films. It’s one of the most honest (and funny) portrayals of female friendship ever put onscreen.