Sunday, April 14, 2013

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Young Adult

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

From the director and writer of Juno with none of the charm of Juno. Admittedly, this is a very different movie from Juno, but given how it was sold on its creative pedigree, you go in expecting some of that film's quirky appeal and rat-a-tat dialogue and come up fairly empty. Rather than a high school student trying to navigate teen pregnancy, here we've got a 37-year-old Young Adult Fiction writer with clear maturity and stability issues coming back to her hometown hoping to reunite with her ex, a happily married new father. It's ostensibly a comedy, but it's not that funny, and as a drama it falls apart because none of the characters seem to have any real arc (they come close but always stop short). I guess the "appeal" is supposed to be how outrageously horrible Charlize Theron's lead is (that's how I recall the trailers and commercials being skewed), but the shock value approach dies out quickly. To Theron's credit, she's actually pretty good, fully committing to the bit, and tries to drag this thing to at least limited success on sheer force of will, but she's working without any support. The dynamic between her and Patton Oswalt as a nerd she ignored in high school is probably the most interesting subplot going, but he doesn't seem to buy in and thus doesn't come off believable. The dialogue isn't terrible, but it's flat, and the plot spins its wheels. Patrick Wilson and the rest of the cast are ciphers. Reitman seems game on one hand as the piece is beautifully shot with well-chosen cuts and close-ups, but I wish he'd spent as much time coaxing his cast. It's too short a movie to be torturous or anything, but I was definitely hoping for more.