Oh look, Adam Scott in an another obvious Adam Scott movie. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I guess, right? In all fairness, Adam Scott is far from broken, and absolutely eats these snarky, serious, dry humor spurting roles for breakfast, which is why A.C.O.D. was the perfect movie for Scott to lead. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if writers Ben Karlin and Stu Zicherman (who also makes his directorial debut) wrote the part of Carter with only Adam Scott in mind, although that’s probably the worst way to attack a screenplay, so that can’t be true. They should consider themselves lucky, though, because with Adam Scott carrying A.C.O.D., this dissection of divorce drama was easier to stomach than it should have been.
Carter (Adam Scott) is a successful restauranteur, dates a beautiful woman named Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), cares for his younger brother Trey (Clark Duke), and has a strong handle on this life – despite the brutal divorce of his parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) when he was a young child. Helping with his younger brother’s wedding, Carter is tasked with convincing both parents to spend one night together civilly, which prompts him to visit his old therapist. This is where he finds out his childhood sessions were part of a study, resulting in a best-selling book on Carter’s experience. Tracking the book down, Carter reads about the person he was predicted to turn into, laughing at how wrong the book turned out to be. But as the wedding planning gets more out of control, and Carter is forced to spend more time with his family, he slowly starts to wonder if he’s really as healthy as he believed, or if the book holds some truth.
A.C.O.D. is a strange movie to me, because it’s not heavily grounded enough to be a serious homage to a generation of children torn between single parents, but it’s not funny enough to be a riotously silly, comedic look into C.O.D.’s, or Children Of Divorce. The result is a mix of mildly funny moments and overly forced moments of parenting horror, as Carter’s mother and father show absolutely no care towards their struggling son. Sure, I’d probably go bananas myself if my parents acted as Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara did, giving us a cinematic version of the divorce epidemic that plagues society daily. A.C.O.D.‘s screenplay tries to create sympathy, but ends up delivering unbelievably spiteful and unjust actions against Carter which seem far too fictionalized.
In terms of casting, there weren’t any chances being taken, as each actor just sticks to their professional wheelhouse. Jenkins has been lapping up obscene father figure type stuff, Catherine O’Hara always gets stuck playing ditzier roles, I’ve now seen Jane Lynch play a therapist numerous times this year, Amy Poehler has played the bitch a few times, and Adam Scott, well, he’s Adam Scott. There was nothing fresh or inviting about the cast, and it just felt like a bunch of people doing what they do. I know it may sound crazy, complaining about actors sticking to what they do well, but there was one crazy character missing to throw everyone off their game a tad, such as Pink did in Thanks For Sharing. We had Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, yet Pink delivered a splendid performance in her own right, skewing my vision of the characters surrounding her. There was no “It” factor found in A.C.O.D. – just a bunch of characters running through lazier motions.
Good thing Adam Scott and Clark Duke are some of my favorite comedic actors around right now, because without them, A.C.O.D. would have been a complete bore. Scott and Duke share a nice brotherly bond on screen, as the two different personalities work well together. Adam, the stickler for responsibility and focus, is kept in check by the genuinely goofy, but completely lovable Duke. They’re yin and yang, and provide the best source of organic chemistry amidst a movie filled with stereotypes and cardboard flavors.
Stu Zicherman gets a passing grade for A.C.O.D., but it’s not without some constructive criticism. With a script that tends to play it safe instead of delve into themes with deeper meanings, it’s hard to fully invest yourself in Carter’s deplorable scenario. Adam Scott’s performance is strong enough to keep a light-hearted vibe from becoming laughable, but Zicherman’s script toes a very dangerous line, one I wish he could have addressed with a little more confidence. With a little more gumption, A.C.O.D. could have been an entirely different story, but instead, we get a more storybook feel that leaves us satisfied, but not fulfilled.