Regular patronage of Los Angeles relics occasionally comes with fine benefits. Tuesday’s screening of the latest Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody film collaboration (Juno) was certainly one of them. I waited patiently in line in front of the New Beverly Cinema, after receiving an email invitation the previous day listening intently as fellow film geeks speculated on what movie we were actually attending.
“Its someone who’s a friend of the New Beverly,” I overheard.
“I said a friend, not the owner.”
After gathering a few clues and a bit of smartphone Googling, I turned up the title Young Adult, which also screened in equal secrecy in a tiny handful of other venues around the US, including the indie-stalwart Alamo Drafthouse in Austin.
It became clear once inside that few audience were allowed in (all but five rows of the already miniscule New Bev seats were roped off for VIPs) that we were no doubt in store for a rare cinematic treat: one of New Beverly’s secret screenings that they’ve become known for. Director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody led cast members Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, and Elizabeth Reaser onto the stage for a brief introduction at the beginning and a rowdy Q&A at the end, including Theron’s statuesque beauty and Oswalt’s tipsy banter (he found a moment on-stage to dramatically smash a wineglass, much to the crowd’s delight).
The Reitman/Cody collaboration proved grimly entertaining. Young Adult follows a ghostwriter of young adult fiction (Theron) as she returns to her Minnesota hometown under false pretenses to win back her high school beau. Oswalt’s character provides equally dark yet heartfelt comic relief throughout. During the Q&A Cody discussed her fight to keep the usual bag of Hollywood ending tricks out of her script: “I didn’t want this to be one of those films where the character undergoes some dramatic lesson-learning turn in the third act.” Indeed, much like Juno, the film is bittersweet, and again, like Juno, bears the hoof prints of an Oscar contender.