Young Adult (2011) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter.

  • Thirty-seven year old Mavis Gary seems incapable of happiness. She has had one failed marriage with no romance in her immediate horizon. She ghosts writes a young adult series of books, which has just been canceled due to low sales. She is in the process of writing the last book, with which she is having a mental block. She lives vicariously through Kendall Strickland, the teenaged female heroine in her books, as like Kendall she believes her high school years were the best years of her life when she was the prom queen. When she receives news that her high school beau, Buddy Slade, and his wife, Beth Slade, have just had their first child, Mavis takes it as a sign that she and Buddy are meant to be together. As such, she devises a false pretense to travel from her Minneapolis home back her her old hometown of Mercury, Minnesota to reclaim Buddy from Beth. As Mavis slyly or not so slyly does whatever she can to hang out with Buddy, even in Beth's company if need be, she also runs into another old high school colleague named Matt Freehauf. She barely remembers Matt until she is reminded that he was the "hate crime" kid i.e. he was beaten almost to death by the school jocks who believed he was gay (which he is not), which has left him among other things needing to walk with a brace. Matt ends up being Mavis' drinking buddy and confidante, Matt, in turn, who tries to be Mavis' voice of reason to get her out of her delusional state about Buddy and get a grip on reclaiming her life as a functioning adult.

  • Mavis Gary, once the high school 'It Girl', now an alcoholic divorcée who writes a soon to be canceled young adult fiction series, makes the decision to return to her childhood home in Minnesota. There she embarks on a plan to win back her former sweetheart, Buddy. The fact that Buddy is now married with a baby doesn't dissuade her. Along the way, she forms a bond with Matt Freehauf, another former classmate, who has been left disabled by a beating he took from a bunch of jocks.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the self-absorbed Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is the divorced, 37-year-old ghost writer of the Waverly Prep series of young adult novels, who is on deadline with her editor to finish the last book of the soon-to-be-canceled series. While experiencing a creative block, Mavis receives an e-mail with pictures of the newborn daughter of her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Beth Slade (Elizabeth Reaser). Believing this to be a sign she and Buddy are meant to be together, Mavis returns to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, to reclaim her life with Buddy, under the pretext she is overseeing a real estate deal.

    Upon arriving after multiple listens to Teenage Fanclub off a mixtape Buddy gave her in high school, Mavis invites him to meet her at a local sports bar for old times' sake the next day. In the interim, she goes alone to a different bar, Woody's. There she reconnects with a former classmate she barely remembers, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), who became disabled after being beaten by jocks who erroneously assumed he was gay. Matt tells Mavis that her plans to destroy Buddy's marriage are insane, but Mavis ignores him.

    The following day, Mavis meets Buddy at the sports bar, where they run into Matt, the bar's bookkeeper, who teases Mavis about her plans. On their way out, Buddy invites Mavis to a presentation of drummer Beth's "mom rock band", and asks her to autograph some of her books for Buddy's niece. Mavis agrees, and, after spending another night getting drunk with Matt, who distills homemade bourbon in the garage of the house he shares with his sister Sandra (Collette Wolfe), attends the concert, where the other moms are resentful of what one remembers as the "psychotic prom queen bitch."

    Buddy becomes uncomfortable with Mavis's advances and decides to leave. Beth wants to extend her girls' night out, however, so Mavis offers to drive the drunk Buddy home. On the lawn they share a kiss that's quickly broken up when the babysitter opens the front door to greet them. The next day, after an awkward encounter with her parents, Mavis is invited to Buddy's daughter's naming ceremony. She goes out with Matt again to Woody's, where they continue to bond and later bicker. The following day, Mavis attends the party, where she declares her love for Buddy, but he rebuffs her. Distraught, Mavis attempts to leave and runs into Beth, who accidentally spills wine on Mavis's dress. Mavis insults her, and tearfully reveals that she got pregnant with Buddy's baby years ago, but had a miscarriage after three months.

    Buddy, who has been preparing a drum-set gift for Beth in the garage, opens the garage door and belatedly learns what's transpired. Mavis asks him why he invited her. He reveals it was Beth's idea, as she feels sorry for Mavis. Humiliated, Mavis leaves the party and visits Matt, where she breaks down in tears and initiates sex. The following morning, while Matt sleeps, Mavis has coffee in the kitchen with Sandra, who tells Mavis she's better than the rest of Mercury. Mavis realizes she needs to go back to the city. Sandra asks to go with her, but Mavis rebuffs her and leaves alone.

    On her way out, she is able to write the last chapter of the book, in which the main character, much like Mavis, realizes the true meaning of being an adult, and both prepare to start their lives anew.

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