I had wondered why this film - from the "Juno" team of writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman - never made it to theaters around here. Then I rented it. I figured out why. It's not just a dark comedy - it's a soulless one. The main character of Mavis Gary is a shallow, selfish creature played with bitchy beauty by Charlize Theron. The young-adult book series Mavis writes has been cancelled, and she returns to her hometown, trying to hook up with her high school love - whose wife just had a baby. The problem is, Mavis isn't fleshed out. She's neither broad enough to make her funny nor nuanced enough to make her human. The nice surprise in the movie, though, is the weirdly enjoyable chemistry between the black sheep characters played by Theron and comedian Patton Oswalt.
- KRISTINA DORSEY