Pop quiz: When did you become aware of Charlize Theron as an actress?


For most guys it was 2003's "The Italian Job" though she had been in a dozen earlier films. For the rest, it was in her Oscar winning role as Stella in "Monster" when she played a serial killing prostitute with Christina Ricci... and was quite convincing.


But her popular breakthrough role was as the skinsuit wearing Æon Flux in the film of the same name in 2005. All the fanboys went nuts and it went on to lose money with a worldwide take of $52 million.

No, that was no typo, "Æon Flux" lost money; yet it's the film most closely linked to Charlize. Here's another tidbit, most of her films have lost money including "The Astronauts Wife" with Johnny Depp, "The Legend of Bagger Vance" with Matt Damon and Will Smith, "In The Valley of Elah" with Tommy Lee Jones, "Trapped" with Kevin Bacon and Dakota Fanning and a few others. It's actually easier to point out the one or two films of hers that were financially successful: "Hancock" and "The Italian Job" and "Cider House Rules".


All this is for you to ask yourself a question: Why do you want to see "Young Adult"? Certainly it's not to see Charlize Theron because quite frankly, she's not a box office draw.


So maybe it's because it was written by Diablo Cody of "Juno" fame and you're hoping for a repeat. But the truth is that lightening rarely hits twice - even when paired with the same director Jason Reitman.


You probably want to see "Young Adult" because it is a familiar story. The story of someone who is trying to get back what was lost long ago; which is the crux of the story. Can you go home again?

Theron is Mavis Gary, a woman who escaped her small town of Mercury Minnesota to the big city of Minneapolis, made it big and now wants to recapture that one thing that got away. That one thing happened to be her old beau Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) who was the school stud.


Unlike Mavis, Buddy stayed, met another girl (Elizabeth Reaser), got married and just recently had a baby. Mavis having divorced her own husband decides to head back to Mercury, woo Buddy away from his wife and kid and take him back to the big city with her. She is, after all the hottest girl from her class. Or at least was.


Alas, booze and city life has taken it's toll which includes her plucking her own hair out when she's nervous. Nevertheless, she packs a bag of clothes and her faithful dog and returns home in a pathetically humorous turn in the film.


Her first encounter is with the guy who was her locker neighbor throughout high school, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) who is a pudgy little nerd living with his sister Sandra (Collette Wolfe). When he was in high school he was jumped by the school jocks and beaten senseless because they thought he was a homosexual. He was not, but they ruined him for life. He is the voice of reason to Mavis, a voice she ignores but continues to see.


The rest of the film plays as a chess game between Mavis and... herself. Not even Buddy's wife is concerned about her even with her fatal attraction personality. And this is what darkens the humor; a game of wit between the same person with potentially a tragic outcome. Potentially.


Charlize Theron dummies down the glamor and the sexiness and does the successful headcase very well. But that is not nearly the case as too many of the characters stories are not developed. We don't even know why Mavis and Buddy broke up!


"Young Adult" is a well done incomplete story that sounds like it was ripped form the pages of Diablo Cody's own life with parts missing. Those parts would have made it a better film; perhaps even reaffirmed Theron's talent.   -- GEOFF BURTON