A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While the characters' behavior is often far from admirable, there's a message about being truly happy with the life you have -- not the one you wished you had.
Positive Role Models
Mavis is almost entirely unsympathetic and says and does things that no one would consider role model behavior; she's unapologetically mean, rude, judgmental, and self absorbed, Matt tries to be the voice of reason, but Mavis won't listen to him. The only positive role models in are Buddy and his wife Beth, who are in a loving relationship and don't turn Mavis away even when she acts so unhinged around them.
Violence & Scariness
Mavis crashes her Mini Cooper after drunk driving. Matt tells a horrifying story about how he was disfigured by bullies in high school.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are a couple of kisses, and one love scene shows lots of Theron's skin -- she's wearing only panties and strapless bra cups. Mavis has a couple of one-night stands -- one after an awkward date and the other after an emotional confrontation.
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Lots of swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "d--k," "p--y," "hell," "oh my God" (as an exclamation), and the more.
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Products & Purchases
Prominently featured brands include Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Apple, Diet Coke, McDonald's, Hampton Inn, Mini Cooper, Volkswagen, Chipotle, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Jeep, General Mills, Wii, Dynex, Philosophy, Hello Kitty, and Playtex.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mavis drinks and drinks and drinks. She's always on her way to getting drunk on beer, wine, or the homemade liquor that Matt distills himself. She also drinks and drives.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this black comedy from the writer of Juno has mature themes about self identity, what it means to be an adult, and how some people never grow out of their high school stereotypes. There's also a lot of drinking; the main character, Mavis (Charlize Theron), is often drunk and even crashes her car after getting wasted. What's more, she's unapologetically mean, rude, judgmental, and self absorbed. Strong language is frequent ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch" are used in nearly every exchange), and the product placements continuous. Mavis has a couple of one-night stands and kisses a married man; some scenes show her barely dressed. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As a cautionary tale to young mean girls, this is a fabulous film, but to those seeking a little heart in their main characters, it's a bitter pill indeed. Director Jason Reitman knows how to make flawed, unapologetic characters lovable, whether it's a pro-tobacco lobbyist (Thank You for Smoking), a pregnant teenager (Juno) or an executive frequent flyer (Up in the Air). But in Young Adult, Reitman (reuniting with Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody) dares to offer audiences a completely unlikable, narcissistic, delusional, selfish protagonist whose personal journey leads her basically nowhere. It's daring, because Mavis isn't an anti-hero or a sociopath or a jerk with a secret heart of gold; she's just an entitled "psychobitch" (to quote the movie) who thinks she can snap her fingers, and her high school boyfriend will leave his wife and newborn daughter to be with her.
Technically, this is a crisply written and well acted (Theron does an incredible mean girl) black comedy. Theron and Oswalt have a hilariously magnetic connection, and he, in particular, is the heart and soul and sense of the story. Matt alone stands up to Mavis and forces her to hear truths that she's nowhere near ready to internalize. This is going to end badly, he implores her to understand; but it's also a warning to the audience. But Mavis has no lightning-bolt revelation -- no apologies, no awareness that she should alter the course of her self-absorbed life. Like the shallow teen heroine she's writing about throughout the film, Mavis thinks her beauty deserves to be recognized and loved, no matter how awful she is to everyone around her.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.