Judge Clark Douglas is an A.R.O.A.C.O.D. (Adult Reviewer of A.C.O.D.)
He's about to ruin a perfectly good divorce.
"You two are terrible together!"
Facts of the Case
Carter (Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation) didn't have it easy growing up. His parents (Richard Jenkins, The Visitor; Catherine O'Hara, Best in Show) were constantly fighting with each other. They eventually divorced, but that only led to more bickering and emotionally damaging competitions for Carter's affection. Now, Carter is a seemingly-stable adult who runs his own restaurant, is in a happy relationship with an easy-going gal named Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and has put his past behind him. Alas, old wounds begin to reopen when a psychologist (Jane Lynch, Glee) who once famously chronicled the woes of Carter's childhood declares her intention to examine his life once again in a follow-up book. To make matters worse, Carter begins to suspect that his parents are contemplating a romantic reunion—a decision that would surely end terribly for all involved.
A.C.O.D. (aka Adult Children of Divorce) is a decent little comedy that tries to become something more substantial but doesn't quite succeed. It's clear that the film wants to make a statement about the effects divorce has had on the modern generation. As the film itself tells us (via voiceover narration from Jane Lynch), we now live in a world where divorce is the norm for just about every other kid out there. "Without a clear example of a successful or stable relationship to examine from an early age, how are these kids supposed to develop successful relationships of their own when they're older?" the film ponders. Despite the fact that these questions are voiced, they're never really tackled or answered by the bulk of the movie in any substantial way. The general lack of conclusiveness on the subject is best summarized by the end credits montage, which features a host of average folks saying that they are (or are not) children of divorce, that they have (or haven't) had success with relationships and that they do (or don't) like the idea of marriage. In summary: relationships exist, and they may or may not turn out well.
While A.C.O.D. may not work particularly well as some sort of profound statement, it is a pleasant, mildly amusing self-contained tale about one man's problems. Adam Scott has more or less mastered the art of playing put-upon straight men at this point; throwing up his hands in exasperation while the world around him spins out of control. He's not the guy you turn to for killer one-liners, but he's a splendid choice when you need a bewildered double-take. He brings both the stellar comic timing and the understated pathos the role needs, effectively handling both the solid comic portions and the slightly less engaging dramatic passages of the film with equal aplomb.
The laughs mostly come from the supporting cast, with Jenkins and O'Hara standing out in particular as an aging couple trapped in an eternal love/hate relationship. Jenkins is often cast as a sadsack or a no-nonsense businessman, but he's a gleefully gifted comic actor who knows his way around a cutting barb. O'Hara plays off him beautifully, and whenever the two start pushing and pulling they tend to start walking away with the movie. Clark Duke does a fun variation on the sort of enthusiastic, socially awkward figure he often plays, while Jessica Alba and Mary Elizabeth Winstead ably flesh out characters who seem a little one-dimensional on paper. Amy Poehler is also rock-solid as Jenkins' embittered trophy wife, though I wish we had seen a bit more of her. The plot mostly follows a series of predictable beats (the midsection, which focuses heavily on Carter's personal crisis, seems particularly by-the-numbers), but the game cast and a decent supply of chuckle-inducing jokes helps smooth things over. At a fleet 87 minutes, the flick doesn't overstay its welcome or let the constant improvisation tamper with maintaining a consistent pace.
A.C.O.D. (Blu-ray) has received a solid 1080p/1.85:1 transfer. The film doesn't look dramatically different from any other modestly-budgeted studio comedy, but colors are bright and vibrant, detail is strong and depth is satisfactory. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is perfectly solid as well, delivering the dialogue-driven track with clarity. Nick Urata's unobtrusive musical score supports the material without ever becoming distracting. Supplements include a handful of topically-appropriate public service announcements, some Amy Poehler outtakes, a cast & crew discussion of the film and a digital copy.
If you generally enjoy seeing the assorted members of A.C.O.D.'s cast as much as I do, you'll find enough smile-inducing moments here to justify a watch. Even so, it's a minor effort for all involved.
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