Young Adult Peek-Out

Paramount held a special screening this evening of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody‘s Young Adult (12.16). The kicker was that it happened at the New Beverly Cinema, a beloved West Hollywood repertory theatre that has sentimental value for many but still has awful sight lines. The good news is that I wasn’t the only one who admired the hell out of it, and that Patton Oswalt, portraying a blunt-spoken, half-crippled fat guy who befriends Charlize Theron‘s neurotic writer character, is now a Best Supporting Actor contender…definitely.


Patton Oswalt at Tuesday night’s Young Adult after-party at an art gallery on Melrose near La Brea.

I don’t know what the rules are about reviewing Young Adult, but I can least say that (a) it’s very ballsy, very well written, very uncompromising, very brazen — a leap forward for Reitman and Cody both; (b) it’s darkly funny during the first two-thirds to 75%, and sometimes hilarious; (c) it’s a kind of Jason Voorhees horror film about a raging blind woman, about egotism and myopia and the absolute mania of the self; (d) as I thought about it during the after-party I began to realize it’s more than just a character study or a black comedy, but a cautionary tale about a kind of egoistic Kardashian-like malignancy afoot in the culture right now; (e) Jack Nicholson‘s Bobby Dupea character in Five Easy Pieces bears a certain resemblance to Charlize’s Mavis Gary; ditto Isabelle Adjani‘s Adele Hugo in Francois Truffaut‘s The Story of Adele H..

A guy named Chris who attended the screening shared some comments tonight in an email, including this one: “I do believe that Patton Oswalt is a lock for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and may even be the frontrunner. The character of Matt Freehauf sticks with you long after the credits are finished, and it is so much more then the ‘comic relief’ performance that the trailer has made it out to be. If Young Adult is a game changer for anyone, it is Patton Oswalt.”


(I. to r.) Diablo Cody, Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Reaser.

(l. to r.) Cody, Theron, Reaser, Patton Oswalt, director Jason Reitman.

  • BobbyLupo

    “Patton Oswalt, portraying a blunt-spoken, half-crippled fat guy who befriends Charlize Theron’s neurotic writer character, is now a Best Supporting Actor contender…definitely.”

    I actually buy that, but bad news for Jonah Hill if he is, ’cause I don’t think there’s any way they could both get nominated. (Unless the voters in the Academy are so out of touch that they don’t even know who those two are.)

  • LexG

    Patton Oswalt has basically the exact career I always imagined for myself– movie nerd who does standup and segues into films and everybody loves his movie opinions and he gets to be in movies with hot chicks…

    I’m a zillion times more depressed now… I also always hear NOTHING but good things about the New Beverly, but I always get the impression that like Yamato, Gilchrist and Faraci, all of whom hate me, sit dead center every night in THRONES at the middle of the theater while people feed them grapes, and any and all (plus Rocchi) of them would take a swing at me were I ever to enter THEIR theater…

    Reitman and Cody are great, can’t wait, guess everyone got to see this tonight, shoot me now, everything sucks…

  • LexG

    Largo and Luna Park 1997, Patton Oswalt wasn’t friendly to me AT ALL, nor was he at whatever that pre-Brewco open mike was at Peterman’s or Petterson’s or whatever it was called…

    Someone give Greg Behrendt a Best Supporting nod, he was the only friendly and cool alternative comic in the late 90s, the rest were careerist pricks.

    I used to be on the bottom end of that open mic stage with Oswalt, Chris Hardwick, Brian Posehn, Scott Thompson, Paul Thompkins… all these guys have SAG cards and careers, and I get to transcribe fucking February’s new releases in a boiler room for 32k.

    Fuck everything.

  • pchu

    I agree about Patton Oswalt in Young Adult, his role is definitely not a comic relief, it’s much more than that. It’s someone who is trying to let go of the past, but not quite able to, a pretty moving performance by him.

  • CinemaPhreak

    Interesting, was just watching Oswalt’s latest stand-up film last week, which put me onto a Q & A he did with like the TImes or AV Club. Or maybe last week’s “Wait, wait”

    He says he can’t even remember his old jokes because they were all about being aloof and “see how much smarter I am than this dumbass” observations. It was only when he started to mix in tales of his own dumbass-ness along with the nerd ones that he found his best material.

    Now he’s happily married, has a kid and a career that keeps expanding. I would say the Universe/karma knew who would put a career as America’s top male nerd comic and actor to the best use. Lex would have been busted in a Victorville motel room with a large bag of a coke and a dead underaged hooker before the first season of “King of Queens” was over…

  • 4th grade army

    Cody just might become the female Alexander Payne. I actually think she should have directed this herself, given that it was set where she grew up and deals with themes she’s explored before (i.e adults who are unable to reclaim their pasts). It seems more personal to her than Reitman.

  • bobbyperu

    Jeff-

    Surprised at your reaction. You found the film “ballsy” and “uncompromising” and “a leap forward” for Reitman? This seems strange to me given that Reitman’s Up in the Air is leagues smarter and richer with more humanity and gravitas than Young Adult even approaches.

    Charlize looks great and is in total control all the way, and gets a laugh in every scene. It’s bitter and bracing and the best of Cody for about an hour. But after that, the film falls victim to diminishing returns — and then forces a pat resolution that comes out fo nowhere. You don’t live like Mavis for 36 years and then suddenly do a u-turn. The film is VERY compromising in forcing an easy resolution just to satisfy The Law of Uplift that Cody should have steered clear of here, keeping Mavis unrepentant to the end.

    And her evolution is not in the film. Why does Mavis leave the party, post-tantrum, then suddenly appear at Oswalt’s doorstep a completely different person? Shouldn’t there be a scene of recognition somewhere? What happened there other than a screenwriter forcing her into submission? Major compromise.

    The theme you mention — that of me-me-me at any cost to anyone — runs through the entire film, sure, but it doesn’t exactly make for a movie all that deep or interesting. Luckly it is fast and funny until it botches its ending.

  • Krillian

    Was Oswalt a regular jerk to you, Lex, or was it more of a case of he just doesn’t talk to people? I’ve had people tell me after they got to know me they thought I was stuck up and I was like, “No, I’m an introvert.”

    You know what sucks? Long hallways at work. I have a 100-yard hallway I have to walk down all the time. What happens when I start at one end and someone else is at the other. We have to look at each other for the whole walk? Where do my eyes go? Should I stare at them without blinking? Do I pull out my phone and call someone? At what point do we have eye contact, like a “Oh, hi.” And once you’ve given the acknowledgement nod, do you then stare straight ahead again? Do you keep looking? Maybe I stop and follow them? Like walk right behind them….

  • http://hitfix.com/incontention Kristopher Tapley

    “The film is VERY compromising in forcing an easy resolution just to satisfy The Law of Uplift that Cody should have steered clear of here, keeping Mavis unrepentant to the end. ”

    Did you completely miss the final five minutes of the film?

  • raygo

    bobbyperu! Spoliers man!

    That said, I skimmed what you wrote, and if true, I won’t like this movie. I grew up with a bi-polar older sister. She was her badass self until the day she died. She listened to no one, took no advice, and was on the road to destruction that most people (except her) could see coming a mile away. Past behavior predicts future performance. It’s true in life, and it should always be true in film for a film character to be credible.

  • http://hitfix.com/incontention Kristopher Tapley

    I guess you mean the Patton scene, Krillian. It’s not really a U-turn. It’s the confrontational outburst she’s probably never had (after bottling up so much of her rage and disgust and simply letting it ooze out here and there over the years) that brings her to that doorstep, and being confronted with the idea that people pitied her, at that.

    This is spoiler stuff so I’ll stop, but it’s not a compromising stroke. It’s an organic one, I think.

  • http://hitfix.com/incontention Kristopher Tapley

    Sorry. Bobbyperu, not Krillian.

  • moviesquad

    Outside of this blog, it feels like there is very little buzz for this movie. I wouldn’t be surprise to see it land with a bit of a thud and vanish from theaters quickly.

  • The Mean Freaks

    Patton Oswalt is giving some Oscar-worthy “serious actor face” in the pic above. I wonder if he practices that in the mirror.

  • The Mean Freaks

    On second thought, this could be yet another rendition of the classic “Jesus, Wells, do you have to take a picture now?” face we’ve seen so many times before.

  • raygo

    Maybe after Young Adult, Diablo Cody can adapt LexG’s story and get Oswalt to star?

  • Rashad

    Greg Grunberg should play Lex

  • Chris Willman

    (Spoiler allusions) bobbyperu: Did you SEE the movie? The ending is 100 percent the opposite of what you described. What are you talking about? Seriously–not a soul in the theater saw the same resolution you apparently did.

  • Chris Willman

    And it’s a lot better than “Up in the Air” (or any previous Reitman or Cody movies).

    That said, does anyone want to predict the public Cinemascore grade on this one?

  • bobbyperu

    Uh, yes Chris Willman, I am commenting about a film I haven’t seen — right, dumbass.

    The ending is EXACTLY as I describe it. And without spoilers (and the belief that Tapley is reading too much into her transformation), the movie wants us to suddenly be endeared to a fairly shallow character because she somehow comes to a major realization the movie hasn’t earned. I believe there is also some trite narration in the final scene which is preseted straight-faced after all of the black comedy preceding.

    Sorry, no. And anyone who thinks this is in the league of Clooney’s final scene with Farmiga in Up in the Air is fucking insane.

  • pchu

    *** mild Spoilers below ***

    Bobbyperu, Mavis was vulnerable due to what happened to her in the previous scene. She went to Patton’s place for comfort. She knows he likes her and wouldn’t say anything to hurt her. She didn’t change, she was just using him.

  • Chris Willman

    (complete and utter spoilers) Bobbyperu: You saw the kitchen table scene at the end, right? The one where she decides where she is right to be a shallow narcisssist who is too good for the town she comes from, and kicks Oswalt’s sister to the curb? The scene where any chance she had at redemption is totally destroyed by her falling for the line of reasoning offered up by the sister who is worshipfully sucking up to her? The scene that Reitman said is the reason he made the movie? And if you saw the movie, you stayed for the Q&A where everyone talked about how important it was to make this a completely unredeemed character in the end? Pardon me for being a dumb ass for thinking you might have missed all that if you think the Theron character goes through some sort of redemptive transformation. You may be as deluded as the character.

  • Chris Willman

    (more spoilers) Oh, and bobbyperu, the “trite narration” you cite at the end is yet another excerpt from the novel Theron is writing… a fantasy verison of her own life, in which she also imagines her protagonist being too good for her small town… the fantasy of which is put up against the real-life image of Theron’s smashed car and smashed life.

    No one else in the theater believed we were supposed to walk away suddenly “endeared to” the character by this uncompromising ending. No one. You are insane.

  • Mark

    Love the “film by” question. Hated the typical interference run by actors when they sense a sharp corner in an honest conversation.

  • LexG

    No one answered my question:

    Was the Faraci/Rocchi/Yamato Nerd Herd there at the New Bev in thrones? Did they bum-rush the actors at the end to pretend that anyone cares who they are?

  • Sasha Stone

    Is it possible that this is the kind of story where how you interpret it defines who you are? It sounds like maybe it is.

    As long as it’s not a movie aimed at the mean bloggers who are mean to movie stars I will be happy with it. I am hoping it is something personal to Reitman/Cody rather than something that attacks, in other words.

    Also, I never really trust what the filmmakers say in the Q&A afterwards. They have their intentions, they set out to make the movie they want to make but ultimately it belongs to the audience. Once people start seeing it it takes on its own meaning. It’s nice to hear what they say but if their intentions equaled the movie see there would never be a bad review ever written.

  • PastePotPete

    LexG, I used to go to the New Beverly a lot when I lived in LA, and the ONLY things it has going for it is the selection of films, and the prices. It’s a pretty rundown theater. I suppose it might have been improved since then, but I haven’t heard of any major renovations.

    Don’t get me wrong, it was a great place to go, all movie fan-audience, great movies, cheap food and tickets, but it wasn’t Shangri-La.

  • Rothchild

    I like how a lot of your “thoughts” about this movie are just you repurposing things Patton said during the Q and A. Good work!

    The movie is incredible.

  • Chris Willman

    (slight spoilers) Sasha: I know what you’re asking, but this is not that kind of ambiguous movie. I love an up-in-the-air ending (so to speak), but this doesn’t have one. It’s pretty clear how we’re meant to feel about all the characters. I don’t think that’s a flaw in this case, for the movie to have a point of view. Trust me. No one will leave thinking it’s intended to offer uplift or redemption. Well, one person already did, but that is a statistical anomaly.

    And I think the Q&A afterward just squared perfectly with what everybody already got out of the movie (Diablo Cody: “Assholes don’t change”). I would have liked to have asked something about just how mentally ill she intended the character to really be (versus an “asshole”), but I never got the mic.That’s pretty much the only area of ambiguity.

    Definitely not an attack on bloggers mean to movie stars or anyone else. If anything, you could take it as a metaphor for the Hollywood-vs.-small-towns dynamic that is more sympathetic to small-towners than the people who leave to make it in the big city.

  • Chris Willman

    PastePotPete: Your comments about the New Bev are dated, as you suggest they might be. It hasn’t been “run down” for quite a while. The seats have been replaced, in the era of Tarantino as landlord, if not before. It’s not the ArcLight, if that’s the experience you’re looking for, but who cares? I’m there several times a month on average and couldn’t be happier with the experience.

  • DeafEars

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Faraci et al at the New Beverly, but then again I don’t know what they look like. I see Clu Gulager a lot, though – either we have the same taste in movies or he’s there almost every night. One evening I was watching an old DELIVERANCE knockoff that he was in, and there was a real chatty cathy mumbling and chortling almost non-stop right behind me. I turned around to see how big he was and possibly tell him to shut the fuck up, and it turned out to be Billy Drago, who was one of the main villains in the movie! So I figured he was entitled.

    I love the New Beverly. They’ve made some improvements, but part of its charm is that you still feel the roof could cave in at any moment.

  • lovethefuture

    “I used to be on the bottom end of that open mic stage with Oswalt, Chris Hardwick, Brian Posehn, Scott Thompson, Paul Thompkins… all these guys have SAG cards and careers, and I get to transcribe fucking February’s new releases in a boiler room for 32k.

    Fuck everything.”

    Maybe those guys have talent in performing and you don’t? I know, it’s a crazy thing to comprehend.

    Your self-pity is comical. Everything in life is so unfair because things didn’t work out for you. And it’s everyone and everything’s fault but your own. Make something of your life or shut the fuck up. Jesus Christ. Your first step could be a better use of your time than constantly commenting on HE.

  • Edward Havens

    Q&As after a private screening are immaterial. If it’s not explained in the movie, it doesn’t matter.

    And saying something is a career-best for Diablo Cody is not very reassuring.

  • bobbyperu

    Dearest Chris,

    You sound like a studio shill, honestly. This isn’t a pissing contest and you’re the one who is looking “insane,” not me, by vehemently going over-the-top–raging even–about a merely above average movie that I have said, more than once, I enjoyed, with caveats. I believe I paid high compliments including “the best of Cody” and also to Theron’s sensational work. I expressed that I feel the ending does not work and that the mea culpa isn’t convincing or earned in the screenplay — period.

    But I am curious how you are able to define with such exactitude what the picture means and intends and how it should be interpreted? Please enlighten us. And no, I did not stay for the Q&A with Reitman and Cody. I have met both of them on occasion with other projects — and I was happy to leave the “surprise” screening with my own take-aways.

  • pchu

    The ending is very clear, this is not an ambiguous ending like Take Shelter.

    This is a great script. Ver different from Juno.

  • great scott

    Oswalt could win a Robert Zemeckis look alike contest.

  • MechanicalShark

    Those glasses make Oswalt look like a dwarf version of Greg Kinnear.

  • Noiresque

    The ending of Up In The Air was blankness masquerading as symbolic and complex.

    As for Diablo Cody’s “Assholes don’t change”… it’s not really anything to do with being an asshole. People who can change do change, and people who can’t change don’t change, and it’s nothing to do with them being an asshole or a decent person.

  • Rashad

    Up in The Air really should have ended with that astronaut scene

  • CitizenKaned4Life

    Look — it’s Paul Schrader’s son!

  • Glenn Kenny

    I don’t wanna get into a yelling match, or heaven forbid, sound like a “studio shill,” but honest to God, reading Mr. Peru’s initial comment (that would be #7) I was seriously wondering, “Oh God, did they change the ending since I saw it?” Because honestly, and to be as spoiler-free as I can, despite the sequence in which the Theron character does something “nice,” the ending didn’t have a redemptive feel for me at all. The very last shot suggests very strongly that the character’s got a very long way to go before she gets better, if at all. Reading Tapley and Willman, I was soothed to learn, or at least infer, that the movie had been unchanged, but I have to say that I took it as they took it, and while I don’t wanna disparage Mr. Peru’s cognitive abilities, I have to say that he saw something quite different from what I, and Tapley and Willman and possibly Jeff, did.

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