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Script review of Diablo Cody’s YOUNG ADULT

Written by: Diablo Cody
Genre: Drama

Mavis, a 30-something writer of young adult fiction who’s struggling to finish the final book in the long running series, goes back to her old home town in order to win the affection of her high school sweetheart Buddy.

When speaking to Vulture a few weeks ago, Diablo Cody had this to say about Young Adult:

It has elements of humor, but it’s pretty serious and fucked up. You don’t get to see women be antiheroes that often, where it’s like somebody like Mickey Rourke, who gets a comeback in The Wrestler. It’s rarer that you’ll have a studio say, “Let’s have an actress come back and be ugly!

After reading the screenplay I dare say she’s pretty spot on with her analysis.  It was actually pretty weird reading the script and having the protagonist/lead be so completely mean spirited, cruel and unlikeable.  I have no idea who they’d get to play Mavis but no-one’s gonna like her, not even at the end of the film because she never has that moment where she resolves to set her life in order.  She just pity fucks a cripple, makes small talk with his sister, and drives off back to the city whilst daydreaming about her high school sweetheart Buddy like the events of the film never took place.

I don’t know if I’d say the script was bad, it just wasn’t particularly good either.  Not much happens during the whole thing other than Mavis becoming an even bigger bitch, a few revelations come about, and Buddy and Beth come off as saints.  The success of the film will probably hinge on who they cast in the major roles of Mavis, Matt, Buddy and Beth.  One thing’s for certain though, this is not gonna be a film anything like Juno or Jennifer’s Body, because both of those had leads who you rooted for/liked despite either being a bratty know-it-all kid (Juno), a wide eyed nerd (Needy) or demon possessed hot chick (Jennifer).  The major characters in Young Adult are the previously mentioned mean spirited, cruel and unlikeable Mavis, the sometimes equally mean and bitter Matt, and the husband and wife Buddy and Beth whose actions are motivated by pity for Mavis and Matt.

I know a great deal of people don’t like Diablo Cody but I really enjoyed Juno and Jennifer’s Body, and I was genuinely excited to read Young Adult (hell, I broke away from reading Michael Connelly’s Angels Flight to read the whole thing just now) but I came away from it sorely disappointed.  I had no idea what it was gonna be about but I certainly expected more from it than what I ended up getting.  Those that do hate Diablo Cody, and her unique dialogue in particular, will be pleased to know that there is none of that verbal wackiness that infected both Juno and Jennifer’s Body.  Young Adult does not contain any nonsensical language.  But seen as how Young Adult is so decidedly average maybe Diablo Cody’s peculiar use of words is what translates to a good story.

RATING: 5.5/10

I hate to do it, being such a big fan of Diablo Cody and all, but the script just wasn’t that good.  My excitement was for nothing.  Read Young Adult if you want to see how to write a completely miserable, unlikeable, selfish, cruel, liar bitch.  Otherwise don’t waste your time.  Young Adult certainly isn’t enough to turn me off Diablo Cody but I’m going to try and be a little bit more subdued in my excitement the next time I get a chance to read new material of hers.

  • Marsh

    Thanks for the insider-ish comments about this script!
    I thought anti-heroes were more of a bad or greyish character you end up rooting for rather than disliking. Are there any redeeming things about this anti-hero Mavis?

    • Frantic Monkey

      I can’t recall any redeeming qualities about Mavis. She gets worse as the story goes on. More drunk, more cruel, more conniving. The best thing she does in the whole script is take the briefest of interest in Sandra (Matt’s sister) right at the end. Mavis is the ultra popular girl in high school who still expects the world to revolve round her and get everything she wants. Completely unlikeable.

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