Young Adult

Rated 4.0

The title refers to the central character, a 30-something divorcee who ghost-writes novels in a “young adult” series. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a former prom queen, still blonde and svelte, and she gets the notion of returning to her home town to finish her current overdue assignment while also trying to reconnect with her high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson) even though he’s happily married to Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) and delighted with the recent birth of their first child. Diablo Cody’s witty, ironic script sets up a tour de force on a couple of levels—for the two lead actors, Theron and Patton Oswalt, whose respective characters are bittersweet foils in Cody’s surprisingly stark comedy of arrested adolescence; and for director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), who manages a consistently smart blend of the story’s stingingly disparate elements. It’s an inverted romantic comedy, a plaintive study in delusion and denial, a darkly comic escapade that turns its characters’ feel-good/happy-talk impulses inside out. Pageant Theatre. Rated R J.C.S.