Sunday, August 19, 2012

Do You Have To Have Read Some Of Those YA Bad Girl Books To Get This Movie?

I saw Young Adult last night. It wasn't wildly funny, but it was extremely interesting.

Here is the basic premise: Mavis Gary was a dreadful teenage girl, who became a dreadful thirty-seven-year-old woman who writes a series of YA novels that sound as if they're about a dreadful teenage girl. Having read a few volumes from similar YA series, having seen a few mean girl movies, just that situation hooked me.

The guy who was watching this movie with me? Not so much.

I said Mavis was dreadful, right? She's dreadful because she hasn't developed past her dreadful teenage self. She's a dreadful teenage girl in a woman's body. Or, at least, she's the dreadful teenage girl who appears in many YA series novels. A disturbance to her world comes in the form of an e-mail birth announcement--her high school boyfriend has just had a baby with his wife. Mavis wants her guy back. She heads back to her home town to woo him and win him.

Now, as I was watching this, I was feeling a little annoyance about the stereotype of the "successful" woman unhappy without a man, jealous of a woman with a baby. But we're not really dealing with a woman here. We're dealing with a nasty teenage girl who wants something another "girl" has. Not the baby, either. Mavis wants her boyfriend back, or, at least, her memory of him. This bitchy woman has a teen romance idea that people are meant to be together and everything will work out in the end.

A few years back, I needed some info on popular kids and asked a young neighbor for some insight. She said, "The popular kids are kids nobody really likes." Presumably the popular kids don't know it. That is definitely the case with Mavis. She's disliked and even pitied, but is not aware.

As I said earlier, Young Adult has some laughs but isn't really a comedy. It's a fascinating movie for viewers who know what is going on it. The ending, the kitchen scene between Mavis and Matt's sister...I'm thinking there's something very YAish there. There's probably lots of YAish stuff here that I missed.

The guy who was watching it with me? He's never read one of those YA bad girl books. He missed everything.


Debby Garfinkle said...

I loved that movie. I write and read YA. The woman I went with, and elementary school teacher who neither reads nor writes YA, also loved it. I probably got a little more out of it, but we both appreciated the great acting, unique characters, and dark humor.

I know the movie has gotten mixed reviews, but it was one of my favorite movies last year.

Gail Gauthier said...

I think if you can get past the fact that it's not going to be hysterically funny, it's actually a different kind of story. Which I appreciate. I also thought Patton Oswalt was terrific.