ACOD, acronym for Adult Children of Divorce, follows the story of Carter, a successful restaurateur who is forced to get his divorce parents together for his brother’s upcoming wedding. Sounds simple, right? Wrong! It’s hard to talk rational if your parents are monsters who hated each other. Carter then have to relives his childhood’s issues all over again leading him to seek his old therapist Dr. Judith for help. Turns out, Dr Judith is never a therapist for young children, she is a researcher/writer who wrote a self-help book based on Carter’s life (it went to become a best-seller). With this news, Carter has to reevaluate his life and life’s choices, asking himself whether his parents divorce affected him deeper than he believes.
For a movie that opt to deal with a serious subject, ACOD is surprisingly not serious… it’s funny or at least it tried to be. First-time writer and director Stu Zicherman loosely based ACOD on his own life that made me worried about his childhood: was he raised by a couple of nut jobs or was it solely movie-related purpose?
Carter’s parents Hugh (played by Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara) are two of the worst characters I have seen in a while. They are loud, crass and more importantly narcissistic. They screamed at each other when they meet, but come one night after a romantic dinner set up by Carter in hope to smooth things over, he walked in on them having sex on the kitchen table. They are both married to different people, yet towards the half final of the movie, they have rekindled and want to get back together. This childish mood-swings sure will offer a few chuckles here and there but it’s also annoyingly tiresome.
As the audience, I have no idea what Zicherman wants: to laugh at a joke gone bad or to feel Carter’s pain and devastation? In fact, I was emotionally invested in Carter’s character, hoping he would ‘straight’ his parents out and perhaps they will apologized to Carter, telling him that he is a wonderful kid. Alas, that never happened since Zicherman is more invested in making this a hipster comedy than a feel-good comedy movie. The ending also threw me off guard with its pseudo-indie ending – I don’t hate it but I would settle for the ordinary ‘everybody is happy’ ending instead.
While the script is lukewarm to say the least, the cast on the other hand is superb. Adam Scott gave a decent performance as the emotionally butchered Carter. I mostly enjoyed his previous works (especially as Ben on Parks and Rec) yet ACOD is a nice reminder that Scott can also be a charming leading star. Richard Jenkins and Katherine O’Hara are two talented actors who act out as they are intended to do. Clarke Duke (Greeks) plays Carter’s younger brother, who at the end realizes how crazy their parents really are. The nice surprise, however, came from comedy queen Amy Poehler and Jessica Alba. Poehler stars as Hugh’s bitchy yet fragile wife, where else Alba shows up as one of the ACOD grown up kids from the book, making her a nice love interest for Carter. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim & Final Destination 3) looks unrecognizable as Carter’s hot girlfriend, where else Jane Lynch sneaks up as Dr Judith, the weirdie divorce counselar.