I finally caught up to “Young Adult” over the weekend. What a great performance by Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary, the high school mean girl who returns to her hometown to try to win back her former boyfriend – who is now rather inconveniently married with a newborn daughter. Completely self-absorbed and borderline crazy, Mavis behaves inappropriately from start to finish. She briefly teeters on the edge of maturity near the end of the movie, but (SPOILER ALERT) manages to pull herself back just in time. She is that very rare protagonist who doesn’t grow, doesn’t change and is never very likeable.
Mavis has no redeeming qualities, really – except for one. She loves bourbon. Maker’s Mark, to be exact. That’s what she’s drinking in the movie still above, just before she is recognized by Patton Oswalt’s character, Matt, the loser who occupied the locker next to hers for four years without ever really penetrating her consciousness. They fall into a sort of friendship based mainly on drinking. Matt is more of a connoisseur; in fact, he is distilling bourbon in his fully geeked-out man cave. (The name of his bourbon is Mos Eisley, after the cantina in “Star Wars.” Of course.)
He tries to educate Mavis on the finer points of aged bourbon, encouraging her to taste the oak in the small sample he’s poured her – just as she downs it in one big gulp. “Oh, was I supposed to sip that?” she asks sheepishly. Actually, Mavis’ love of bourbon really isn’t a redeeming quality, either, because Mavis obviously has a drinking problem. Remember, kids: Enjoy your bourbon responsibly.
“Young Adult” was written by Diablo Cody, who either really loves Maker’s Mark or is on their payroll, as she also referenced it in “Juno.” Asked what she’d like to drink when she meets the prospective parents of the baby she’s carrying, Juno (who’s also underage) replies, “I’ll have a Maker’s Mark, please. Up.” She’s kidding!