Movie Review: Young Adult

The movie Young Adult with Charlize Theron was not at all what I was expecting.

Being about a YA author, I thought it would be zany and fun, an upbeat comedy. It came up on Netflix and I watched it last night, discovering that it was anything but upbeat.

It’s actually very difficult to watch. The main character is struggling with depression and her behavior can be very difficult to empathize¬†with. The only thing that kept me watching was discovering a character played by Patton Oswald who has a disability.

The story is that Mavis leaves the big city of Minneapolis to go back home to Mercury, Minosota when she sees her ex-boyfriend’s announcement that he and his wife have had a baby. Mavis becomes convinced that Buddy, her ex, is trapped in his marriage and would want to escape with her. When she arrives, she bumps into someone else she went to high school with, Matt. She doesn’t remember him, even though his locker was next to hers, because she was a cool kid. Her memory is triggered when she realizes that he is “the hate crime guy.” Meaning that Matt had been attacked and brutally beaten by other kids at the school because they thought he was gay. He says because he actually isn’t gay, it turns out it wasn’t a hate crime. But his legs were damaged beyond repair and he walks with one forearm crutch. Mavis gets drunk and tells him her plan to get Buddy away from his wife. Matt tries to talk her out of it, but she is entirely delusional. Throughout the movie, Matt and Mavis start to become friends since he’s the only one who is seeing the real her.

I found his character to be deeply moving. The crutch was not something that he just carried around for its metaphorical value to the movie. He really does move with it. He has the insight that Mavis lacks and she is not able to see it when she hurts him.

There’s a rather hilarious scene when they bump into Mavis’s cousin who is a paraplegic and the “happiest cripple in town” according to Matt. The guy is cheerful and upbeat, telling them about his wife, his kids, his rock climbing, and how he and Matt were “rebooted for extra positivity.”

Overall, though, it is a really sad movie. It ended on a note of hope, but not nearly the happy ending that this American viewer loves! It left me feeling bleak. Still, it was totally worth watching for Oswald’s performance. I never would have expected to find him sexy, but he really was. Just make sure you have someone nearby to cuddle with when it’s over.


  1. Chie Alem√°n
    Jan 7, 2013

    Did not know this movie featured a crutch user. I actually normally dislike Patton Oswald, but I’ll have to give this one a shot. Thanks for the review.

    • RuthMadison
      Jan 8, 2013

      I know, right?! I had no idea from the preview that there was a disabled character. And I agree that I don’t usually like Oswald, but in this role I found him really interesting, sweet, and sympathetic!

      • Jane Wheeler
        Jan 10, 2013

        *cough* OSWALT *cough*

        He was amazingly great. I really felt for him, disability or not — a couple of his lines, about how Mavis had continually ignored him over the years, just slayed me. Great lines, delivered perfectly.

        One of the things that really struck me about his character was that he was clearly set up to be at the absolute bottom of the pecking order — bullied and unpopular even before he got beat up, fat and geeky, still living at home with his kind-of-losery sister. But he’s clearly built his own life in a way that shows the control he has and his ability to excel at the things he finds personally meaningful. The distillery in the garage is the perfect example. Meanwhile, Mavis is supposed to be the fancy and successful one, but WHOA THERE.

        He was so incredibly blunt, which I loved. I felt like the things he said weren’t overly dramatized; they just *were*. In the end, I thought he came off as the most solid and self-aware person in the movie.

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