Movies That Should Be Comics #21- Young Adult

A Beautiful Mess
After 3 straight days cooped up with me and my three year old , my wife snapped suggested I go (by myself) to the movies. For whatever reason, the movie I most wanted to see amid all the holiday blockbuster hooplah was Young Adult, the story of a ghost writer of a once-popular teen novel series. Besides the fact that it stars the lovely and talented Charlize Theron, Young Adult was written by Diablo Cody (Juno, United States of Tara) and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Thank You for Smoking). Obviously disturbed by a recent divorce, Theron's character Mavis Gary randomly fixates on an old boyfriend, her highschool sweetheart Buddy (Nite-Owl from Watchmen), who just so happens to be married with a new baby. The combination of subject matter and creative team was too much for me to resist, so I decided to check it out!

Category FAIL

"OMG... Nite-Owl is so effin' HAWT!"
First of all, I have seen this movie branded as a romantic comedy which is really misleading. Sure, I found it very funny, and Mavis is determined to "get her man against all odds" in typical romcom fashion, but Young Adult is way more drama than comedy. When I arrived (very early) at the theater, I saw a couple of twentysomething suburbanistas coming from watching the previous showing, and one turns to the other and sneers "I thought it would be funny, but it was kind of depressing..."

Because "funny" and "depressing" can't happen in the same story, right? They totally can of course, and in Young Adult, they totally do. The storytelling is superbly done, and all the actors deliver. The ever-elastic Theron is scary good as the movie's alcoholic basketcase of a star, whom lazy critics will label "unlikeable" due to her laundry list of personality flaws. Mavis is messed up, but she's funny, good-looking, and talented. That is enough to make a person attractive to most people, and she's also good at hiding her shortcomings when she wants to. The director protects us from her charms by quickly and repeatedly revealing her hotness and charisma to be a masterfully constructed, but ultimately thin facade. As we get to know her, her problematic traits start to reveal the train wreck that awaits. 
Spoiler Alert! Not really...
This movie is excellent, but not necessarily for everyone. Let me give you a spoiler that will help you decide if it's for you: If you are planning on watching to see if Mavis and Nite Owl will rekindle their fated high school romance, forget it. Mavis' home-wrecking mission is doomed to fail in awkward and spectacular fashion. The only thing approaching a romcom plotline is the intimate-yet-dysfunctional relationship Mavis forms with her handicapped toy-friend Matt (comedian Patton Oswalt [United States of Tara, Ratatouille, The Informant!]), but it mocks romcom fans' desires more than it satisfies them. No matter how you slice it, this movie is not a romantic comedy, and it will punish you for wanting it to be one, hence the depressed chick who was leaving as I was coming in... 
Mavis is...
Mavis is the mean girl who never grew out of it. She is a self-defeating, alcoholic drama queen. While not technically insane, she has serious issues that she refuses to face, and while they repeatedly destroy her relationships, she is capable enough to stay ahead of the wave. Because she is pretty and talented, there is always someone willing to rescue her that she will throw away once she thinks she can stand on her own. As much as critics want to brand Mavis unlikeable, society produces lots of people like her that we like just fine until we get to know them. We sweat them, woo them and beg for their approval. We rejoice at their every passing wink or pinch of attention. When they need us to enable their bad behavior, we are just happy to be needed. And even though we miss them when they are gone, we eventually realize we are better off without them. Is that depressing? Not to me. But then, I'm not Mavis, nor am I in love with anyone like her. If you are, you should follow Matt's advice: "Keep that to yourself... and see a therapist".
the Anti-Crumb?
I think it would be really cool if this was made into a comic, especially by a female writer-artist. Imagine if there was an ex-cheerleader/prom queen like Mavis who also happened to write and draw semi-autobio comics! Lets call her the Anti-Crumb... It would sell like Taylor Swift mp3s, buddy! Let's face it: everyone in the comics industry CLAIMS they want girls to read comics, but most comics are made by dudes like Matt. Eeew! In the movie, Mavis is all messed up and self-absorbed... but she's a helluva writer who knows what girls want to read! If she could draw comics like R. Crumb or Harvey Pekar, not only would girls flock to her signings in Twilight-like droves, but she would have art nerds and Eisner awards piling up at her door! Whether she was drafted by a traditional comics publisher or her books dropped as outsider comix, the Anti-Crumb would smash the comics industry as we know it, generating adoring fans, angry critiques and eager copycats in record numbers! So put down your old yearbooks and sharpen your pencils, ladies. Your audience is waiting...

No comments:

Check this out!

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner