The R-Rated Dark Comedy Everyone Can Relate To, Stream With No Netflix Subscription

By Robert Scucci | Published

  • Charlize Theron stars in the totally relatable 2011 dark comedy Young Adult.
  • Young Adult tells a tragic but realistic story of what many people face in the transition to adulthood.
  • Charlize Theron’s riveting performance landed her a Best Actress nomination at the Golden Globes.
  • Young Adult is streaming on multiple platforms, including Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+.

Before Charlize Theron shaved her head to become Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, she portrayed an even more intimidating figure named Mavis Gary in 2011’s Young Adult. While there is an underlying sense of rage in both films, Young Adult expresses it in the suburban town of Mercury, Minnesota, instead of the desolate wasteland found in the Australian outback.

Despite the obvious thematic differences, Charlize Theron will have you white-knuckling your way through the entire film because this particular brand of comedy-drama gets heavier than even the most souped-up nitro trucks. 

Mavis Gary Struggles With Adulting

Young Adult is an incredibly uncomfortable yet surprisingly accurate depiction of an individual going through a severe mental health crisis as they approach middle age. Charlize Theron’s Mavis Gary is the troubled protagonist we watch unwind for 94 minutes as her life in Minneapolis deteriorates, causing her to visit her hometown of Mercury to take care of some unfinished business.

The unfinished business in question involves Mavis attempting to reconnect with her ex-boyfriend, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), who is now a happily married father. 

Return To Her Roots

There are two primary catalysts for Mavis’ odyssey in Young Adult: her ongoing writer’s block, and finding out that Buddy now has a daughter. Knowing that her ghostwriting career is about to come to an end with the conclusion of the Waverly Prep series she’s working on, Mavis is hesitant to finish her manuscript. Mavis also gets the thought in her head that Buddy wants her back in his life, so she wants to go back home to win his affection. 

Coming from a place of severe depression, Mavis desperately needs somebody in her life to be the voice of reason. She meets up with Patton Oswalt’s Matt Freehauf, who serves that purpose (kind of). Mavis and Matt spend most of their time together in Young Adult getting wasted off of homemade bourbon that Matt makes in his garage, and commiserating over how their lives have turned out. 

Heavy Subject Matter

After a series of escalating incidents, Mavis comes to terms with the fact that she may be an alcoholic, but doesn’t have the presence of mind to do anything about it. As Young Adult approaches its second and third acts, it becomes clear that she is spiraling out of control while trying to make peace with the life she left behind in Mercury. Though Young Adult tackles some seriously heavy subject matter, it’s not without a sense of humor. Some of the most memorable moments involve Mavis and Matt drunkenly stumbling through town, failing to realize that most of their problems are the result of their inability to grow up and move on with their lives. At the same time, Mavis is extremely unlikable but ultimately a sympathetic character because she’s clearly going through a crisis that she doesn’t have the wherewithal to look at objectively. 

One Of Charlize Theron’s Best Performances

For her performance in Young Adult, Charlize Theron was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. For so bravely focusing on Mavis’ troubles, this hard-to-watch but ultimately rewarding dramedy garnered an 80 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, and was a commercial success that earned $22.9 million at the box office. 

Where To Stream Young Adult

Young Adult is not an easy film to watch, but you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video, Fubo, and Paramount+ if you’re willing to take a deep-dive into Mavis Gary’s psyche. You can also rent the title on demand on Apple TV+