Last week, we posted the trailer for Young Adult, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody‘s new flick starring Charlize Theron. We’ve watched the teaser several times since then and decided it needed more analysis. Hence:
Young Adult tells the story of a woman named Mavis Gary who escapes New York City for a trip back to her little off-the-map hometown. Charlize Theron’s Mavis is a leather-clad stunner of a woman who swills whiskey like it’s coconut water. She is a Young Adult novelist. My own mother is a also Young Adult novelist, and sometimes her Yong Adult novelist friends will come over for get-togethers. They wear those rainbow-colored toe socks and are plastered after half a glass of Shiraz.
The trailer opens on an aerial shot of a motel that sits next to a Home Depot, presumably meant to indicate that we’re back in Kansas anymore. Charlize, who wears a Hello Kitty shirt (artifact of immaturity!), checks in with the woman at the front desk.
(Side note: Somehow we let a new stock character slip into the language of American cinema, and it’s the surly teenage goth girl who works the register. This girl, who is all eyeliner and no intonation, stands non the other side of the counter from our protagonist in half the movies made this decade.)
So surly goth girl has welcomed Mavis to the Hampton Inn in her flat monotone goth girl voice. Charlize’s bag begins to vibrate and bark. Counter Girl asks if she’s got a dog in there. Charlize denies it. The woman says smalls dogs are actually allowed with a pet deposit. Charlize says that’s good, because she does have a small dog… in her vehicle. That’s joke one. Joke two is that the thing in her bag is not actually a dog, it’s a vibrator.
The town Mavis grew up in is called Mercury, not for the planet, the element or the god, but for the SUV manufacturer. In a Mercury bar, Mavis chugs whiskey with her old pal Patton Oswalt. Then she fixes her hair in her hotel and attends a daytime gathering in someone’s home. A woman at said gathering refers to Mavis as a “psychotic prom queen bitch,” which is confusing because I thought that was the premise of Jennifer’s Body. David Bowie’s “Queen Bitch” plays during all of this, because: subtlety.
In the next sequence, we learn why Mavis has traveled home to Mercury. She wants to win back the affections of Buddy Slade, her high school boyfriend, who’s married with a baby. Buddy is played by a very blonde and sweater-wearing Patrick Wilson.
(Side note: Do you get the sense that Patrick Wilson is an actual, real sociopath? Great. Glad we agree.)
Next up, Mavis has dinner with an older woman I assume to be her mother. This woman comments that Buddy’s infant child is, “just darling,” and in response, Mavis snorts. She does not find the baby darling at all, because she is a different kind of woman — one who’s better than all these small town folk because she’s got her career and her New York and her vibrator dog.
Montage time! Mavis gets her nails done, Mavis does shots of whiskey with Buddy, Mavis is bumped by a mean woman and spills wine all down her shirt. That’s another thing we can do away with in movies, maybe?, the wine spill” We live in an age of Tide stain remover pens, which renders the wine spine a not-very-big-deal.
Intertitles read, “Everyone gets old. Not everyone grows up.”
Mavis heads to a department store to buy a new outfit for the rock concert she’s going to with “an old flame.” Buddy’s wife will be there also, and it’s this presumably sweet and anti-Mavis woman that Mavis wants to impress and indimidate. Might we suggest another bit of infantilizing Hello Kitty garb? Presumably, though, Mavis will pick out something sexy and take it up to the register, where a surly girl in chains and eyeliner will ring her up.
“Young Adult,” another title reads. Ah yes, a double-entendre. The trailer closes with Patrick Wilson explaining to Mavis why she needs to leave him alone. “Mavis, I’m a married man,” he says.
“I know,” a totally-not-comprehending Mavis responds. “We can beat this thing, together.”