Anne T. Donahue
April 05, 2013 6:00 am

And a terrific day to you, m’ladies and m’lads! I’ve been gone for a week, but I am BACK (I feel like every OLMN now starts this way), and I am PSYCHED because we’re watching a movie that I really love: Young Adult.

Can you feel it? In the air? Me, writing about Young Adult? I bet you can because that’s exactly what’s about to happen. We’re going to watch it, and I’m going to talk about it, and I’m going to wear a cardigan JUST LIKE OLD LADIES DO. (Also my house is legitimately freezing.) (Though for the record this cardigan is oversized and looks like something Blanche from Golden Girls would wear.)

I saw this movie a few years back and became consumed with the fear that I was Mavis (Charlize Theron), but I soon learned that she is a fictional person of which I only slightly resemble. (Read: I would also happily lay in a hotel room bed eating Cherry Garcia ice cream, and I would also steal a hotel donut) The rest, well, we are different. But that’s fantastic, because then we can talk about Young Adult in ways we could ever imagine.

Intimidated yet? I am. I have no idea why I worded the last sentence like that, and I don’t actually think I’m mentally prepared. Yikes.

1) I literally cannot describe to you how terrified that I was Mavis

So I originally saw this movie on New Year’s Eve of a year that was only slightly less bad than the year I was going into. Thus, imagine my fear that, living “in the big city” and completely unhappy, I was exactly like Mavis. Also, that my writing career would go the same way. Also, that I would somehow fall back in love with the guy I liked in high school (even though he was legitimately the worst). Fortunately, this did not happen. Though in Mavis’ case I can kind of get why it did. (WHICH WE WILL GET TO, OBVIOUSLY.)

2) But seriously with the baby photos being sent out

Now here’s what I don’t understand: I get that Buddy and his wife are supposed to be awesome (and we’ll get to that in a minute), but why would they send a photo of their new baby to Mavis? Who does that? And Mavis makes a good point: IT’S FOR THE INNER CIRCLE. NOT for the ex-girlfriend of the father who doesn’t talk to him anymore! Could you imagine? “Anne, I sent my partner’s ex a photo of our baby.” – “Why?” – “…I don’t know.” – “Apologize.” – “Okay.”

A movie by Anne Donahue.

3) But the thing is, I THINK WE ARE ALL A LITTLE MAVIS

Which is why this movie is actually so great. Even if you despise her character, there is a part of you that understands. Why? Because we have all thought:

a) “Ugh, screw you, hometown. I’m so much better off wherever.”

b) “Maybe it COULD’VE worked out with that one guy.” (Though this usually goes hand in hand with “everything else in my life kind of sucks right now.“)

c) “Everyone is the worst.” Because do you know what? Sometimes everybody is. (And that is when you watch this movie, because Charlize Theron’s expressions are the stuff of Facebook cover photo dreams.)

4) So did she just leave the guy in her apartment then?

That is a real question I have, only because I am a freak about people touching my stuff, and I would absolutely lose it to think he was not only touching my stuff, but perhaps using my bathroom, and stealing my money, and not locking the door. What if he ate my food? No. And of course, I would also assume he was going to wear my clothes because why wouldn’t he in this scenario I have created.

5) AND THE SONG-LISTENING

Been there, done that, would’ve gotten the t-shirt if the guy’s band had them. “But Anne! That’s nuts!’ It is not, friends, for in grade 10, my best friend and I listened to a tape the guy I like recorded, in which he and his band… practice. An hour of Green Day’s “When I Come Around.” Played terribly. That we listened to for days/every time we hung out. So goes hand in hand with this theory…

6) Mavis is stuck in high school, but it’s not her fault

HERE IS THE THING. Mavis is obviously an adult woman responsible for her own behaviour, BUT she is also obviously suffering. First, from an alcohol addiction that we will get to later, and second, from a divorce, and third, from a life she’s unhappy in. So she gets stuck in the high school mentality of thinking she’s better than everyone, and over-romanticizing some guy who is actually not that terrific because he is leading her on. And don’t even get me started on her parents, who clearly aren’t offering the support she needs. So while we can go “Mavis, no — no, don’t do that” we, as members of the OLMN union, must also go, “Ugh, yes, but she’s in a weird place, and needs actual help.”

7) BTW the city I’m from is so much like Mercury it’s insane

Who’s with me! Does anyone else hail from a town populated by family restaurants and a few okay places? I kid you not: the Mercury downtown she is driving through (ex. Chili’s on one side, Applebee’s on the other) could’ve been my city and NO ONE WOULD HAVE KNOWN THE DIFFERENCE. Minus the those who work at Chili’s, which is actually a Swiss Chalet instead.

8) Matt’s situation breaks my heart

BREAKS MY HEART. I know this is a fictional thing, but I hate that it happened, I hate that Matt was bullied/assaulted, and I hate how Mavis calls him “the hate crime guy.” However, Patton Oswalt rules, and his is arguably the best character in this movie because seriously, who can deliver the one-liners while also making you want to weep because UGH OUR HEARTS. (And I know that wasn’t technically a question, and I’ve made peace with that.)

9) But may I just say that the 6 p.m. meet time is the ultimate buzzkill?

Alright, I get it. Some people have kids and families and the whole sha-bang, and you know what? YOU DO YOU. That is not personally my choice, but that’s cool, and who knows, I’m 27, maybe I’ll adopt four kids by the time I’m 40. I am not a fortune teller. NONETHELESS, at this age, I just can’t with the early meet times for things. What about work? I don’t want to go right from work mode into hang time, and then after that, it’s what … 8? 8 O’CLOCK? THEN WHAT? Because I’ll tell you what: you’re not going to go back home and work, and then you are certainly not going to go out anywhere else unless it’s to the movies, but what if you’ve had wine? These are my very important concerns that I have as an adult woman. ALL I ASK IS FOR 8 AND/OR LATER. Because at least then we have a NIGHT WE WORK HARD WE DESERVE IT.

10) Matt is the conscious we all need

“What a wonderful, permanent commitment to make!” he says to Buddy in front of Mavis about Buddy’s child, which is perfect. And I hate it. But I love it, because it is SO NECESSARY. We’ve all had friends who’ve sang the sad, sad reality, while we’ve lived in Fantasy Land, and while we despise them at the time, we can absolutely look back and say, “Thank you, friend, and I’m sorry, and the next time I’m delusional, put me on a plane and send me to the North Pole.” Which is why I like to pretend Matt and Mavis stayed friends, because like I said, Fantasy Land.

11) “What the f— ever, bookman!

Is my new personal motto whenever anybody is out of line*.

*Motto will be said alone in my car, probably even in my head. Though if a friend is with me, clearly out loud and as a Charlize impression.

12) But then the bragging — the bragging

Another good title for Young Adult probably would’ve been, “We have all done that.” And I don’t know about you guys, but remember when you first achieved something cool, and you didn’t realize how awful it was to brag, and you said stuff like “yes, I’m an author of a teen series — it’s disturbingly popular”? Of course. Because like me, you also cringed at this scene because we have all been high and mighty once about being a “music journalist” or a “keyholder at American Eagle” or “whatever.” Though now we know the lesson to learn: keep that attitude up, and you will run into someone you like at the grocery when you’ve got your pajamas on, are sick, and not haven’t showered for days. And then you will never, ever feel better than anyone else ever again.

13) BUDDY IS LEADING HER ON, THOUGH

Well we’ve touched on Mavis reading into things LIKE WE HAVE ALL DONE, but why don’t we give a little shout-out to Buddy who’s not exactly sending out the happy married vibe. Remember how one minute he’s telling her to sign a book for his niece, and the next he’s inviting her for dinner to see his wife’s show, and the next HE’S KISSING HER? I mean, of course Mavis will cling to those small things and then that enormous thing. 1) Because she likes him, and 2) because he is a grown-ass man. And that means he can say, “I’m married” and/or “I can’t hang out, I’m sorry” and/or “Mavis, great to see you at that one place at 6 p.m., but the rest of the week is pretty hectic.” BUT HE DOES NOT. He keeps hanging out with her, even though her intentions are obviously more than friendly. No.

His wife, on the other hand, rules majorly.

14) Mavis, though, why are you talking smack about Matt?

Well, we know why — she’s reverting to the high school times. But come on, Mavis! Matt’s your friend! Secret friends are for ghosts, which MATT IS NOT. That’s the rule: you can only be secret friends with a ghost. The rest of your friends, you BASK IN THAT GLOW OF FRIENDSHIP.

15) Nipple Confusion is a terrific band, so Buddy can also relax

They’re not horrible, Buddy and Mavis! In fact, they are GOOD, and I would LISTEN TO THEM MAYBE. I mean, right now I’ve been listening to a playlist inspired by Boardwalk Empire, but when I was done with that, I would absolutely listen to their cover of that song they were playing. You go, Beth. You go, Nipple Confusion (which is the name of the band). YOU GO, GIRLS. #YGG

16) Though Mavis and Matt would never have worked romantically

We all wanted them to, but they never would have, and I KNOW, it’s upsetting, but you guys, I am almost out of Pocky so trust me when I know what “upsetting” means. See — real talk alert — Mavis is battling actual depression and alcoholism, and Matt is still reeling from the trauma of being assaulted in school, and they are only enabling each other’s sadness and self-destructive behaviour. It never would’ve worked — it would’ve just been a downward spiral. Which is why this movie is so sad in addition to so funny/good. (See: the entire scene between them in the woods, where the tears happen.)

17) And why, Mavis’ parents, why

WHY. Remember when Mavis says she has an addiction to alcohol? And then they sing the praises of her ex-husband? And then they don’t properly address her pulling her hair? WHO. WHY. (WHAT.) (WHERE.) #FEELINGS You are doing it wrong, Mavis’ parents. Everyone is losing minus us who are enjoying the fil-im.

18) AH NO THE DECLARATION OF LOVE SCENE

The only reaction any of us are allowed to have is making a “oh no… no no no” expression while also hiding behind our hands. Because that’s what I did, you guys. In the theatre. And when that didn’t suffice, I pulled my coat over my face. Something I wish I had now because I’m watching it again FOR YOU FOR ALL OF YOU.

19) Though I actually cried laughing when Mavis and Beth confront each other, and Buddy appears with the drum kit

Are you thinking about it now? Do you know what I’m talking about? LAUGH WITH ME. Laugh with me because we deserve it, and it is terrific.

19) b) But Mavis’ monologue actually does make me cry-laugh, but not in the “HA HA HA” way

In the “oh my God I’m laughing because I’m nervous but I’m also crying because I feel really terrible for her” way. I want to wrap her up on a blanket and tell her it’s going to be okay, and then also get her help…? And Charlize, you guys, SHE OWNS IT. Because after that, we’re taken right into this insanely vulnerable scene between her and Matt, who are both so sad, and it’s filmed so well, and I love it so much. THIS MOVIE, everybody. We did it (by watching it together).

20) The moral of the story: none of us are at our best in high school, and none of us should settle with being our best now

Now as we all know, the movie ends with Matt telling Mavis he thought he was at his best in high school, and that she was not at her best. So here’s how I see it: none of us are at our best we’ll be at right now. Which is good! We always have things to learn about and to improve and to change, and while we can — and SHOULD (my god, please!) — like ourselves, we’re always growing, so our best years are still ahead of us. Fortunately, Mavis figures this out (or so we hope), but even if we’re not talking about the movie, for heaven’s sake, none of us — not a single person reading this — peaked in high school. HORRAH.

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