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The Story
"Young Adult” takes the traditional romantic comedy and turns it upside down. Ultimately, Mavis engenders a grudging empathy. She is a lost soul to root for. As shallow and despicable as she often is, she is the girl you love to hate in equal measure.

"I think what I liked was that it was such the anti-romantic comedy. It is what a standard romantic comedy would look like in real life; I mean if you really look at characters in romantic comedies, they are just sort of good looking sociopaths,” explains Patton Oswalt.

Mavis was the quintessential "popular” American teenager. She was beautiful and excelled in everything she did. She was also self-absorbed and brutally judgmental. Every girl in high school wanted to be her, even if they detested her.

"The way Charlize attacked that character was so unflinching and unapologetic that it was clear right away that this was a very complicated characterization and not that mean girl that you've seen in comedies over the last ten years.” recalls Halfon.

After high school, Mavis left her small town of Mercury, Minnesota and moved on to the big city of Minneapolis, or "the Mini-Apple” as it's affectionately known by residents of the surrounding small towns. Here, she continued her success into adulthood by becoming an accomplished writer of a popular teen book series called "Waverly Prep.” More and more, her own life begins to resemble that of her fictional teenage heroine as fantasy and reality intertwine, which is especially confusing since she is now in her 30s.

"For Mavis, it's especially frustrating because she is not really credited with these books. The books were created by another author and Mavis is sort of ghost writing them and it really allows her to live vicariously through these characters, who by the way, exist in this incredibly superficial universe. We see Mavis sort of stealing bits of dialogue from teenagers she hears on the street. She will hear these awful, insipid conversations between teenagers and paste it right into whatever she's writing. It's funny because when ‘Juno' came out, people would constantly ask me if I eavesdropped on teenagers and if that's where I got my dialogue and I thought that was the funniest thing ever. I thought this was just a sad thing to imagine. I was thinking, ‘No! No, I don't do that!'” says Cody.

In Mavis' books, there are clear winners and losers and the heroine always gets what she wants. This is really the Mavis Gary credo, which makes it even more troubling for her when her book series is cancelled. When she receives an email birth announcement from Beth Slade, the wife of her high school sweetheart Buddy, she snaps. This e-mail becomes the catalyst that drives Mavis to go to drastic lengths to reclaim the life she once knew.

"I think we all know someone stuck in a certain time in their life and they can't get past it. I feel like Facebook and all the social networking that exists has enabled us to stay in touch in a way that may not be healthy - for Mavis, and that creates a dramatic situation. She heads back to Mercury because Mercury is sort of her power center in a weird way. She was at her most powerful when she lived there. She had the best hair in her class, she was really popular, she was with the love of her life, Buddy Slade, and I think she feels that it's never too late to go back. She sees herself as completely superior to the people who stayed behind so of course she's going to make a splash,” adds Cody.

Mavis cannot fathom a world where Buddy could be content with this small town existence and in her opinion, an average wife. Her dark, ironic, "worldly” attitude contrasts with their simple, sunny outlook. Fortunately she finds a likeminded soul in Matt Freehauf, a fellow damaged traveler.

"I think it's difficult for her to go back to Mercury and see that some people are content. How dare these people be happy when she's achieved so much more than them and is so much more attractive and so much more cultured and wears better clothing and they're happy? But Buddy's happy. Beth is happy. It's very frustrating for her and luckily she is able to find Matt Freehauf who is the one person who is just as angry and maladjusted as she is. They're a good pair,” Cody notes.

After securing her "reunion” with Buddy, he is friendly and polite and outwardly happy to see her. Mavis reads volumes into Buddy's every word and gesture.

"I'm a big fan of not always knowing the characters' intentions and I like the idea of playing with innuendo and ambiguity. I think all my films have an element of that. It was important for us not to know exactly where Buddy stands…that we don't know whether Mavis has a chance or whether she's just walking into a trap,” explains Reitman.

In her mind, her plan is working because while Buddy doesn't necessarily completely connect with her, he doesn't entirely turn her down either. She interprets his vacillation as a cry for her help to free him from the fetters of his mundane married life. It also presents her with a new paradigm - typically men throw themselves at her. It's hard for her to read these mixed messages, a task made more difficult because her relationship with reality is tenuous at best.

"She insinuates herself into his life pretty easily and we're not really sure why that is in the beginning. It just seems that Buddy is receptive. I think Mavis is probably shocked that Buddy doesn't take her back the first night they reunite because in her mind he should want to be with her as much as she wants to be with him. It just becomes very pathetic,” says Cody.

Her schemes seem even more outlandish because even if Buddy seems receptive to her advances, his marriage seems solid, he has just had a baby and his wife is as lovely and personable as Mavis isn't.

"It would have been so easy to make Beth a character that the audience could root against, unlikable and simple. In fact, she's really cool. She's in a band, she's incredibly nice, she's a teacher of children with special needs. And most of all she's completely satisfied with the life she leads in Mercury. She's even compassionate towards Mavis who has actually come to town to obliterate her marriage. She is strong in the way that Mavis is weak and I think that is what eventually sends Mavis over the edge,” Cody explains.

At this point, it becomes clear that what Mavis does not realize is the relationship she is trying so hard to cultivate with Buddy is not going anywhere but simultaneously, the one she has no interest in is blooming effortlessly.

"We spend this movie watching her trying to have chemistry with a very handsome man with whom she has zero chemistry and at the same time see her at ease and romantic with a man we don't expect her to ever have chemistry with. There's a lot of movies that claim to be the most unlikely of romantic stories but this truly is that film,” says Reitman. "Mavis completely misses the fact that she is becoming very dependent on Matt Freehauf as she turns to him repeatedly during her time in Mercury. She might not always like what he has to say but she does seem to care about what he thinks of her. Matt is the only person in her life who is telling it like it is and this is something that Mavis is not used to. She is used to being showered with praise and compliments and Matt does quite the opposite which is in an odd way, forces her to try to be better. "

Mavis tries different looks and tactics to win back Buddy and, deeply invested in her own fantasy, she believes her plan is working. Her deluded intrigues crescendo in the worst, most public way.

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