Movie review: Adult World

adultworldFebruary 17, 2014 – It’s typically not good sign when a movie heads right to cable. That should have been my first clue.

“Adult World”, the comedy about poet wannabe Amy (Emma Roberts) and her mentor Rat Billings (John Cusack), premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and opened in October in Syracuse, N.Y., where the movie was filmed. It landed “On Demand” on Friday without an appearance in theaters in my area.

I normally don’t pay for movies On Demand – I’m already paying for cable, so why double pay – but after watching a free 10-minute clip, I was intrigued. I like Cusack, and find him worth the price of admission, and I adore Cloris Leachman, who’s appearance in the movie was an unexpected surprise. Both stars made me agree to the $5.99 price tag.

Written by Andy Cochran, and directed by Scott Coffey, “Adult World” tells the story of recent college grad Amy who has a degree in poetry, but no real life skills. She expects her parents to support her until she becomes the next Sylvia Plath, minus the depression, and when they refuse, she is forced to work at the only place that will hire her, a sex shop in a questionable part of town. Amy believes the work is beneath her, but through it she meets and begins stalking reclusive poet Rat Billings (Cusack).

“Adult World” is a double entendre; the first for the shop where Amy works, and the second for the life she now leads as a working person expected to support herself. Maturity may eventually come, yet throughout most of the film, Amy acts more like a naive 12 year-old than a 22 year-old.

I’m not too familiar with Roberts or her other performances; all I know is that she comes from an acting family (Julia Roberts is her aunt and Eric Roberts is her father). She hardly turned in a poor performance, but rather one any capable actress could handle. Although she is given the most screen time, she held my interest only when Cusack was featured in the scene. There were a few scenes badly acted, though I couldn’t I determine whether she played the scenes badly, or she was supposed to play the scenes badly to show her character is on the childish and dramatic side.

If anything, the movie is a true depiction of the eye-opening experience many recent college graduates face, which seems to be the trend these days. At HBO, Lena Dunham writes and stars in the series “Girls”, which is about a similar experience. I don’t consider myself a true fan of “Girls”, but it is more genuine and interesting than Cochran’s screenplay.

“Adult World” is often silly and unbelievable, just like its cast of characters, but there are few redeeming qualities, which boils down to any scene with Cusack who saved this bleak look at life in upstate New York. The movie reeks “Indy”, which I usually find appealing. It tries to be an anthem to the post college world these days, which often finds graduates struggling and depending upon their parents out of sheer necessity. Too bad it fails to entertain while pointing that out.

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