Critic’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Rated R by the MPAA
Directed by Stu Zicherman. Starring Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Amy Poehler, Clark Duke and Jane Lynch. Opens Fri., Oct. 18 at area theaters.
Carter (Adam Scott) has got his shit together.
He runs a successful restaurant, he’s got a gorgeous, awesome girlfriend and he’s an awesome big brother, despite a messy childhood. One in two marriages end in divorce and his parents’ union happened to be particularly shitty, culminating in a hell of a scene at his ninth birthday. But the dude is all right, a-okay, nothing to see here folks.
At least that’s what he keeps telling himself. Then his little brother, Trey (Clark Duke), gets engaged and employs big bro to bring Ma ’n’ Pa into the same room as each other after not speaking for 20 years. Well not speaking to each other; they said plenty about each other. Carter decides to seek out his old child therapist, Dr. Judith (Jane Lynch), for some advice, only to learn she wasn’t a therapist; she was a researcher who turned him and other kids into a New York Times Bestseller, Children of Divorce.
So Carter is now planning and funding someone else’s wedding and wrangling his brother, mother and father into playing nice while still trying to make time for his four-year girlfriend, Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who doesn’t even have a key to his apartment. Oh and Dr. Judith. Definitely needs to be seeing her. Things don’t exactly go as Carter plans and now he’s wondering how to keep it all together as everything spirals out of control.
A.C.O.D. is just as fractured, hesitant and insecure as a child of divorce. It’s not sure if it wants to be a comedy or tell a tale of self-reflection and growth in the face of stress. It’s not funny enough, nor is it plaintive enough to do well as either type of film.
Director and co-writer Stu Zicherman also penned Elektra … So there’s that; draw from it what you will. His partner in scribe, Ben Carlin, was a long-time writer — and former head writer — for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, explaining some of the sharper humor and irreverent approach to the dramatic subject matter. The pace is jerky and frenetic at times, not leaving the audience a chance to recover.
Character actor Adam Scott turns in a solid performance. He doesn’t quite have the charm or jaw line for the lead in wider-released material, but the damaged-goods role in indie fare suits him well. Richard Jenkins in a comedy role? Shit, sign me up. He’s flawless as the philandering fuckhead father figure. You’ll barely recognize Catherine O’Hara, the mom from Home Alone, in the maternal role here, although being Mrs. McAllister was probably a great primer for the overbearing, crazy bitch Melissa. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is all grown up as Carter’s supportive girlfriend. Although her screen time is a bit lacking, she makes the most of it.
A.C.O.D., like Carter, just couldn’t put it all together. It’s got a solid cast, some funny jokes and can tug the heartstrings, but it’s kind of slap-dash and patchwork inside. I wanted to root for these characters, but it turns out they’re just as shitty as everyone else.