When I spoke with Jason Reitman on December 2, 2011, he had just finished the “get to know us” tour for YOUNG ADULT. It was his way of sneaking the film under the radar directly to audiences in seven lucky cities. The film breaks many rules, including the biggest one, the main character doesn’t change. At least not much. That was the first thing I wanted to ask him about before we moved on to Patton Oswalt’s astonishing performance opposite the equally marvelous one by Charlize Theron, and why sometimes a Mini-Cooper is just a Mini-Cooper.
YOUNG ADULT is a film about growing up, moving on, and letting go. Or in the case of Mavis Gray, none of the above. She is the ghost writer of a young adult novel series that has bitten the dust, and instead of writing the final installment, she takes zips out of Minneapolis back to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, dog in tow, to reclaim her high school boyfriend, despite him being happily married and the father of a newborn. Charlize Theron plays Mavis, Patrick Wilson plays Buddy, the object of her mission, and Patton Oswalt is the limping geek who has loved her since high school, an affection that doesn’t stop him offering Jiminy Cricket-like reality checks, even as he also plies her with home-distilled liquor. The film was written by Diablo Cody, with whom Reitman previously collaborated on JUNO, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He was also nominated for a directing Oscar for his subsequent film, UP IN THE AIR, for which he DID win the AFI movie of the year award.