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Film: Young Adult

A 2011 film written by Diablo Cody, directed by Jason Reitman, and starring Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt.

Mavis Gary (Theron) is a young adult fiction writer who, pining for her glory days in high school, returns to her small town in an effort to win back her high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson). Considering that he's happily married with a newborn baby, this proves to be a somewhat more difficult task than Mavis had thought it would be. She also bonds unexpectedly with former classmate Matt (Oswalt) who is also having trouble letting go of the past.


Tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Mavis Gary drives the same car Stella Bridger drove
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: In a subtle example, Mavis. Occasionally she is seen wearing things a High Schooler might wear (like a Hello Kitty T-shirt and a hoodie with the school's football team's logo on it) but what an adult woman would not wear. Matt calls her out on the hoodie.
  • The Alcoholic: Mavis. She knocks back a serious amount of hard liquor in many scenes and is shown passed out on her bed every single morning. She ultimately realizes this and confesses to her parents, but they laugh it off as a joke.
  • Alpha Bitch: Apparently, Mavis in her high school days. She still acts like she is, but it doesn't fool anyone. Buddy's wife reveals that she along with many other people feel sorry for her, and that's why she had made Buddy be nice to her when he didn't really want anything to do with her.
  • Ambiguously Gay: May cross over into Les Yay, but there are odd hints that Sandra (Matt's sister) may have or have had a crush on Mavis. Leaving Rice Crispie Treats in her locker, when they weren't even friends, for example. The end where she begs to let her come back to Minneapolis with her also hints at it.
  • Author Avatar: The character of Kendall in Mavis' Waverly Prep books. Word of God says that Mavis herself is also this to Diablo Cody.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mavis's relationship with Buddy, and probably everybody else in Mercury, ends on a sour note, but it appears that after she lets go of him, she is preparing to get her life on track.
  • Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with Mavis getting out of bed with someone, realizing that this isn't what she wants and and leaving the town she's in.
  • Child Hater: Seemingly Mavis, given her reaction to Buddy's newborn daughter. However, this is thrown into a new (possibly sympathetic) light when she reveals that Buddy had gotten her pregnant at age 20 and she suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks, which presumably led to their break-up. They had been planning to keep the baby.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Mavis during her Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Danza: Kind of. Elizabeth Reaser as Beth Slade.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mavis is this pretty much always, except when she's around Buddy.
  • Disposable Wife: Averted. Mavis desperately wants Buddy's wife to be this, however she's a perfectly nice woman and he has no intention of leaving her.
  • Extruded Book Product: Waverly Prep, which Mavis is a ghostwriter for.
  • Expy: Waverly Prep bears more than a few resemblances to The Clique (down to its very shallow popularity-obsessed characters based off of whats trending at the time of writing, being set in a very rich New York locale, the seeming churning out of titles and quick publishing demand and sudden bottoming-out of popularity/relegation to clearance sale shelves)
  • Fan Disservice: When Matt takes his shirt off. What makes it all the more awkward is that he's clearly aware of it. Also Mavis in a very unflattering forward posture wearing tummy-support pantyhose and invisible-bra stickers, with her makeup running.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Not in the movie itself (as it's R-Rating makes that unnecessary) but the trailer plays the David Bowie song Queen Bitch. It never says the offending words, but any Bowie fan will know the song and will know what it's saying about Mavis.
  • Groin Attack: Part of Matt's disability is that due to being hit in that area everythings not that great downstairs.
  • Hated Hometown: When asked by Matt if she's moving back to Mercury, Mavis' response is "Ew, gross. No."
  • Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: Mavis's book is a rare professional example, showcasing her Ignored Epiphany and lack of Character Development.
  • Insistent Terminology: That's not moonshine in Matt's garage still, it's aged bourbon.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Subverted. Matt walks with a crutch, but its only one of a laundry list of problems he pities himself for. "Wheelcair" Mike Moran, who is handsome, popular, perky, athletic and more disabled than Matt, tries to be type B, but Just manages to piss of Matt and Mavis by stealing everyone's attention.
  • Jaded Washout: Mavis.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Mavis and Buddy. Buddy regrets it and thinks it was a mistake, Mavis assumes it meant more than it did.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: Several times during trips to the salon, including closeups of manicures, facials, etc.
  • Mistaken for Gay: The reason why several jocks nearly beat Matt to death with a crowbar as a teenager, leaving him permanently crippled and needing to use a crutch. Buddy still thinks he is, and is incredulous when Mavis tries to correct him.
  • Mister Muffykins: Mavis' Pomeranian named Dolce spends a significant amount of time in a large handbag.
  • Most Writers Are Writers
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mavis tries to be this, wearing plenty of revealing outfits and appearing in various states of undress. All it does is show that she is trying too hard, as she's often inappropriately dressed for the venue (dive bar, sports bar, family party).
  • Odd Couple: Mavis and Matt. Mavis is tall and beautiful, and successful at least by Mercury's standards. Matt is a short, homely cripple who never left town and works at a meaningless job.
  • Pity Sex: Mavis and Matt. Subverted in that the pity is on both sides.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Mavis sports one at the naming ceremony.
  • Product Placement: Averted with the "KenTacoHut", a 3-in-1 KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut restaurant. It's treated with a fair amount of derision, which then frames Mavis eating there later.
  • Really Gets Around: Mavis, past and present.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Matt gives one to Mavis, going on about how pointless her quest is and how pathetic she is for even trying.
  • Self-Deprecation: Mavis Gary is a thirtysomething writer who hasn't gotten over her high school years, and writes teen movies... er, young-adult novels peppered with Totally Radical teen slang in order to recreate her Glory Days. Diablo Cody is keenly aware of this fact.
    Diablo Cody: This common question I would get at Q&As or press junkets or what-have-you was: "Why are you so fixated on [movies about] adolescents?" I began wondering, "am I stunted somehow?" And so as I thought about my own life, I thought, "Gosh, that would be a great character — a woman in her 30s who writes young-adult fiction and does in fact cling to deluded teenage fantasies in her real life, and is obsessed with recreating her teenage years come hell or high water."
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Compare Mavis in the beginning of the film to Mavis in the end.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Matt after Mavis explains why he should just get over the attack that permanently damaged the lower half of his body.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: One of Mavis's reasons for going after Buddy. It's noted by her parents that her ex-husband was also a Nice Guy.
  • Small Town Boredom: Escaped by Mavis prior to the film's events, Matt's sister Sandra is desperate to do the same.note .
  • Totally Radical: Mavis writes her characters' dialogue in whatever teen slang she overhears at fast-food joints or at clothing stores.
  • Triang Relations: Type 4, with Buddy as B. Mavis thinks she's C and Beth is A, but it's the other way around.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Mavis.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mavis has a big ol' drunken freakout at Buddy's baby's naming ceremony.
  • Villain Protagonist: Mavis.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?
    • Didn't Mavis leave a dude in her apartment at the beginning?
    • While she does finally rescue Dolce, how long was that poor dog locked up in that hotel room?
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Mavis is sure she's the hometown girl made good, back to fix everyone she grew up with (clear, for example, in her speech to Matt) and rescue her high-school sweetheart from his loveless marriage. This is incorrect.
    • She expects Beth to be threatened by her presence. On the contrary, Beth invited her

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