Get out your drum sets and old pictures, we're reviewing A.C.O.D.!
Carter (Adam Scott) is an Adult Child of Divorce. He seems to be adjusting well now that he owns his own restaurant and is in a relationship with Lauren (Marie Elizabeth Winstead), but when his brother Trey (Clark Duke) suddenly gets married and asks him to get their parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O'Hare) together, he finds out he's not so well-adjusted, after all.
It's an interesting premise to do a movie about children growing up with divorce and how they handle life, especially since divorce is so huge in this country. It seems we don't hear about divorce in movies and TV unless the writers want to point out a reason why the main character is neurotic. This seems like it would be a great way to show just how many people grow up in a divorced home and how some grow with it while others are deeply affected. Unfortunately, the movie cares more about being an indie movie about a white guy with problems than actually showing any of that interesting diversity stuff.
It started off compelling, but after the main premise is set up and all the pieces are set in place, it gets real predictable, real fast. Mostly, you're left with montages of Adam Scott looking perturbed set to sad indie music. There are a lot of those and it gets tiring after a while. The movie focuses on him and his troubles, and it's not very exciting. Most of the things normal people would have trouble with (planning and paying for a wedding, keeping his restaurant from closing) are easily solved with his apparent infinite stash of money. Because rich white people, I guess? And I am a big Adam Scott fan and love him on Parks and Recreation, but he cannot carry a movie. At least not this movie. Maybe it's the script and the fact he's not given much to do besides freak out and knowingly look out into the distance while sad indie music is playing, but he doesn't feel like a leading man here.
And really, I wanted to see all the other ACODs and how their lives are doing. Better? Worse? What do they have to deal with and how? We're briefly introduced to Jessica Alba's character, but she's barely used as anything but a second love interest. As the credits are rolling, they talk to all the people producing the movie, and over half of them are ACOD. That's a lot more interesting! Maybe they should have just done a documentary. I would have liked a scene where Carter meets all the other ACODs and realizes that maybe he doesn't have it so bad with his family and money, but that doesn't seem to happen.
The movie we get involving Carter trying to keep the whole family together for the wedding as it quickly implodes is a fairly funny affair. There are some laughs here and there with some predictable turns. The problem is that all of the characters are terrible and I don't know who I'm supposed to root for. They are all just awful, annoying people. The mother and father are the worst but Carter, our main hero who we should like, is also an annoying, whiny, selfish asshole. He seems to start out ok, then he lies and cheats and acts like a jerk and I stopped caring about him. I think Trey and his wife come out the best as they just want their wedding to go well.
This has a huge cast and they're all pretty funny in their roles. I think the whole family is terrible, but individually, each actor gets a bunch of funny moments and plenty of time to do some great angry shouting. Other than the main cast, you also get Amy Poehler as Carter's dad's third wife, and Jane Lynch as Carter's "psychologist", who's hair strangely gets lighter as the movie goes on? What's up with that? Richard Jenkins and Catherine O'Hara probably get the funniest situations because their characters are the WORST.
The soundtrack is really generic indie music, and it starts to grate pretty quickly. I don't think it's necessarily bad music by itself, but it all sounds like the exact music you'd watch in a parody of an indie movie. It really starts to drag when they have multiple montages of Carter hardcore thinkin' about stuff. Serious stuff man.
I'm also not sure what the movie is ultimately trying to say about divorce. If they had had more characters I would say it's about how divorce is a part of life, but it solely focuses on Carter and his dysfunctional family. Then there's the non-ending. After a big kerfuffle, time passes and you see three characters in tuxes and the movie never tells you who is getting married. That's – that’s not a resolution. Are people getting married or deciding to put off the marriage? You have not said whether you solved the problem or not! Or what the problem is! Or if these characters have learned anything! There's no resolution; characters just magically stop being terrible people. It's an annoying, ambiguous ending. Looking at the whole thing, I want to say the movie is saying the wrong message about divorce, but I honestly don't know what message they're trying to say in the first place.
I feel like I'm really down on this movie even though I enjoyed it while watching. It's a pretty funny, though generic, movie affair. I just wish it was more about varied cases of Adult Children of Divorce instead of focusing on “generic dysfunctional rich white family.” The more interesting story, the story that needs to be told, isn’t the same recycled trope-filled plot we’ve seen ten times before. Someone take this movie's premise and make something better!
THE GOOD: Interesting premise, big cast, funny, some funny bits with angry shouting, cool credit scene.
THE BAD: Adam Scott can't carry a movie, premise is abandoned to for generic dysfunctional family plot, bad music, too many montages, who cares about the white guy, terrible people, annoying ambiguous ending.
THE VERDICT: $$$ It's not the movie I was hoping for, but it's still a fairly funny movie if you're looking for a generic indie comedy to watch.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Little Miss Sunshine, Pieces of April, Step Brothers, What to Expect When You're Expecting, Running with Scissors, Royal Tenenbaums
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Carter has one of his many sad-looking-out-into-the-distance-while-sad-indie-music-plays montages as he's looking over old photos and court documents while sitting on the deck of his parents' lake house. Then in a fit of emotions he dumps all the photos and papers into a garbage can, douses them with gasoline and is about to burn everything when his stepdad walks up in fishing gear asking what the hell he's doing. Carter stops for a moment and looks around just as the indie music stops. I'd like to think his character had a sudden moment of clarity as he realized he's the main character of an indie comedy doing a really generic montage thing.