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Mavis Gary, a writer of teen literature, returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart. When returning home proves more difficult than she thought, Mavis forms an unusual bond with a former classmate who hasn't quite gotten over high school either.
For more about Young Adult and the Young Adult Blu-ray release, see Young Adult Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe, Jill Eikenberry
Director: Jason Reitman
» See full cast & crew
Young Adult Blu-ray Review
When YA Lit grows up.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 28, 2012
Love conquers all. Have you not seen The Graduate? Or, like, I don't know, anything?
Young Adult might scream out "Romantic Comedy" considering its premise -- woman chases down her now-happily married ex from high school; kinda-sorta finds herself with another, wounded guy instead; and goes through a period of self-discovery, all with some sly humorous undertones -- but it's really a rather serious and sobering Drama in the guise of a light Comedy. Young Adult is the latest from the creative mind of Diablo Cody, the hot property who penned the highly successful Juno that was all the rage back in 2007 (has it really been about five years? Time flies in the movie biz...). Her latest script is again paired up with Jason Reitman, director of Juno and the marvelous Up and the Air, himself one of Hollywood's quickly-rising stars. The film sees Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron in the lead role and enjoys two wonderful supporting performances from love interest Patrick Wilson and a subtly hilarious and darkly serious and complex Patton Oswalt. So with this impressive collection of talent, how does Young Adult fare? The answer, largely, lies in audience expectations. Those wanting to watch a RomCom will be sorely disappointed with the heavy, even somewhat darkly painted, themes of discovery, acceptance, and letting go, but audiences going in with no expectations (often the best route) or looking for a serious and soul-searching adult-oriented picture will discover a piece of high quality work, even if it is rather melancholy.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) pens Young Adult novels for a series she didn't create. She lives alone, drinks Diet Coke, and writes. Her life's not too interesting, really, but things change when she receives an e-mail from her old high school flame Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) announcing the birth of his and his wife Beth's (Elizabeth Reaser) brand-new baby. Eager to find some meaning in her life, or give fate a shot, Mavis packs up and leaves Minneapolis for the smaller town of Mercury where she hopes to reconnect with Buddy and, just maybe, convince him to leave the family he's built for his old high school sweetheart. Buddy agrees to meet her, but doesn't seem nearly as interested in rekindling the physical relationship or reliving the glory days of yesteryear. Mavis isn't one to give up so easy, however, but her life is further complicated when she runs into Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), a nerdy moonshiner who was once severely beaten at school, leaving him halfway crippled and his manhood only partially functional. Can Mavis find what she wants, or will she discover through her time in Mercury that Buddy isn't the answer to all of her problems?
As previously noted, Young Adult isn't a Romantic Comedy. It's instead a rather dreary -- but highly engaging and extraordinarily well made -- Drama about a wayward life, a woman experiencing a midlife crisis as her book series winds down, her age goes up, and she finds herself alone and dreading the future. Her life quickly becomes one lived on a whim, the character taking the longest of long shots to reconnect with her past, never mind that her aim -- whether she truly, deeply accepts or understands it or not -- is to become a classic home wrecker, even as she's not certain her ex will meet with her, let alone fall for her and leave behind is wife and newborn baby either for a fling or for something more "forever." The appeal here isn't watching her try and steal her man -- that's more sad than it is funny -- but witnessing the subtle and, by film's end, not-so-subtle parallel that runs between her life and how she wraps up her series of YA (Young Adult) novels. In essence, she's become a grown-up character from her book, but a character who hasn't learned from the stories in her books. She discovers in herself a woman who can't let go of her previous life and accept what fate and time and distance have done. She can't, try as she might and wish to do, return things to the way they were. Life isn't as simple as a dream and acting on a whim, it rarely goes as planned, and one certainly can't turn back the clock, let alone turn it back and remain in the present. It's a fascinating subtext and one of two reasons why Young Adult works so well.
The other, no surprise, comes from the technical side of the ledger. The performances in Young Adult are superb and uncannily in-sync with one another. Cast chemistry is sublime, particularly between wounded warriors Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt, the former in search of a way to return to her past, the latter in search of a way to escape from it, the former emotionally wounded -- more deeply than the audience knows until the end -- and carrying her scars within her psyche, the latter physically wounded and carrying his scars in his walking crutch. The performances benefit greatly thanks to Cody's natural, effortless dialogue that's authentic and moving, built around subtle hints and enhanced by nuanced performances that reveal the meaning beyond the words by way of the truth that's exposed behind the eyes. On the other side of the camera, Jason Reitman has created a wonderfully subtle and unique visual experience. The film is largely quiet and pensive, a welcome reprieve from the traditional Comedic or even Dramatic structure that aims to hide shortcomings behind walls of music and bustling activity. Young Adult plays openly; it has nothing to hide, exposing its deepest and darkest secrets and every last ounce of its characters' personas for the audience to see, which serves to only enhance the movie and its themes. Likewise, the photography is involved yet personal; Reitman invites the audience to experience Mavis' life, not simply watch it pass on by on the screen. The sense of openness and honesty, combined with the organic and made-for-one-another performances, round Young Adult into a surprising gem that hits all the right notes with confidence to spare.
Young Adult Blu-ray, Video Quality
Young Adult's 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer isn't a showstopper, but it's a steady, consistent, and pretty much faultless performer. Paramount's latest HD transfer, sourced from digital photography, yields excellent clarity, a consistent crispness, and rarely captures that flat, glossy "digital" look. Facial detail is superb, revealing well-defined lines and even Theron's powdery makeup that becomes visible in certain up-tight shots. The high-quality imagery reveals all the wear and grime on Mavis' laptop, the details on Matt's action figures, and general indoor and outdoor textures as seen throughout the movie. Likewise, colors are vibrant and steady, accurate whether in bright daylight or the dimmed lighting of a bar. Flesh tones are even and true, and black levels never waver towards crush or a shade of gray. Noise, banding, blocky backgrounds, and other such eyesores are absent. This transfer doesn't have the pristine "pop" of the absolute nicest Blu-ray images, but it's technically proficient; fans couldn't have asked for better!
Young Adult Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Young Adult's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack sometimes doesn't have much of an opportunity to strut its stuff. The film opens in near silence and remains that way for several minutes. Only the hushed voices on TV and the very subtlest of ambience are heard, but the track does "quiet" remarkably well. It also enjoys some light ambience throughout, which is delivered with great efficiency. Light background music at a restaurant or the din of city traffic help listeners to identify the locales and create true-to-life, seamless environments. The film's music, when it plays, enjoys a full body, great clarity, and seamless spacing. Dialogue remains distinct and crisp throughout as the track's centerpiece attraction. Though there's not much to it, this is a wonderful, very high quality lossless presentation.
Young Adult Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Young Adult contains an audio commentary track and several good featurettes.
Young Adult Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Young Adult works on pretty much every level. The story is different to say the least, a rather heavy Drama in the guise of a light Comedy. It's easy to watch and never difficult to absorb, despite its darker themes contrasted with what is often a somewhat cheery backdrop. The performances are superb, the technical craftsmanship pitch-perfect, and the writing pretty much faultless. For all the rage around Juno, this is Cody's best work, and it ranks highly in the growing Reitman cannon as well, right behind the exemplary Up in the Air. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Young Adult features standout video, solid audio, and a good array of extras. Highly recommended.
Young Adult: Other Editions
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Young Adult Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Young Adult - March 12, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody's Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt and Patrick Wilson. The film arrives on Blu-ray ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: March 6-March 13 - March 12, 2012
Paramount Pictures makes a strong HD showing the week with the Blu-ray release of Young Adult. The movie illustrates the art of defying audience expectations; the studio might have marketed Young Adult as an off-kilter romantic comedy, but director Jason Reitman's ...
• Young Adult Blu-ray - February 3, 2012
Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment will bring Young Adult to Blu-ray in March. Directed by Academy Award-nominee Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), this dark comedy stars Charlize Theron (Monster) as Mavis Gary, an author of young adult fiction who returns to her ...
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