A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce)


Release: Friday, October 4, 2013


If ever you wanted to test the limits of your moviegoing patience and goodwill, rent a little flick by the name of Adult Children of Divorce, or A.C.O.D. for short.

A nail biter, a fist-clencher, an intensely palm-sweating experience for all of the wrong reasons, first-time director Stu Zicherman’s romantic comedy is the most unromantic comedy this reviewer has seen in ages. So why the nail biting, fist-clenching, etcetera? Though not an exhaustive list, these are the physical reactions a viewer is likely to have while enduring a film like this. (See also: head-bashing, eyeball-gouging, and the immediate chugging of rubbing alcohol to induce permanent blindness.)

Phew. Well, after flushing the system of those reactions, I have to concede that A.C.O.D. is not quite that despicable. But it’s not a good film, not by any stretch. It strands a talented cast in a story that is exasperatingly dull, one that misses its potential like the Titanic missed its final destination. The snail’s pace and amateur plot development together result in some of the longest 87 minutes you’re likely to experience, at least while watching a comedy.

Let’s back up a little bit before I go into a full-fledged rant. The premise is about a grown man, Carter (played by Adam Scott) whose parents have been divorced for most of his life and haven’t so much as spoken for the majority of that time. When his younger brother Trey (Clark Duke) drops the news of his upcoming wedding to his “super hot girlfriend,” Carter’s horrified to learn that Trey wants their now-remarried parents to attend the wedding. That sounds awkward enough, but the nature of Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara)’s separation has rubbed salt into the wound. And thus, the movie being the most unromantic romantic-comedy created in years. A family dynamic that’s this dysfunctional begs the question as to who decided this would fit the description of a rom-com.

Making matters worse, Carter learns one day that a family friend who is also a psychotherapist (Jane Lynch) has been studying people like him for years, tracking the rippling effects a divorce has on the children of separated parents. He’s unwittingly become a caricature in Dr. Judith’s book, titled ‘Children of Divorce.’ Though Carter wants to believe he only shares physical traits of those who raised him, the doc thinks there’s something lurking underneath the surface that makes him more like his parents than he’d care to admit. So she approaches him for a follow-up, a sequel to her highly successful book. She’ll call it ‘Adult Children of Divorce,’ with the intent being. . .well, that much isn’t so clear. The movie falls down on its knees in this department, providing the greatest flaw in the design.

Not only does the movie not take advantage of what appears to be, on paper anyway, a poignant statement on the nature of love and commitment in modern society, the damn thing’s not funny. Save for the odd guffaw caused by good old Richard Jenkins, everyone else in this film suffers from over-dramatization (Amy Poehler’s bitchy sorority alum Sondra, who is also Hugh’s latest wife, being the worst offender — seriously, can we please go back to the days of SNL, where she was actually funny. . .and live in that time?) and limited character development.

There’s a goldmine that Zicherman fails to tap into here. One cannot deny the appeal of the film’s title. It has real potential, although a comedic approach to the matter is questionable in the first place. With the divorce rate — as it pertains to the United States — hovering at or around 50%, a statement on the alarming rate at which the phrase ‘for as long as you both shall live’ is being cast aside- in present-day marriages should make for a really great movie. Channelling my inner Arnold Schwarzenegger here: negative.

Despite a select few moments in which Jenkins and O’Hara try their hardest to pull a rabbit out of the hat with regards to this conceit-, the vast majority of the story is bogged down in footage that would seem more useful in B-roll takes. Adult children of divorce is apparently a ‘real’ concept, as the end credits introduces the viewer to people involved in the making of the film who describe themselves as such; it’s a shame we can’t really care by the time they introduce themselves.


2-0Recommendation: This is a frustratingly mediocre product that begins with promise and steadily declines over the course of less than 90 minutes — and to reiterate, the film feels more like a two-hour affair than something that registers just shy of a standard full-length feature. Performances all around aren’t that memorable. If you are a die-hard Richard Jenkins fan, you might check this out but that is the most positive recommendation I can really give the film. Otherwise, it’s a squandering of potential in any other way.

Rated: R

Running Time: 87 mins.

Quoted: “You know, the thing about Portuguese whores is some are born in Portugal, some are born in Africa. It’s a real mix.”

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Photo credits: http://www.moviefone.com; http://www.imdb.com 

30 thoughts on “A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce)

  1. Boo. It’s a shame Adam Scott can’t find success in films as he’s completely killed it on the small screen. But alas, I love him too much to have this go un-watched. I’ll catch it on Netflix.


    • Preaching to the choir man, I love Adam Scott actually. Well, aside from his supreme asshole in Walter Mitty being the worst part of that film. He’s really likable IMO. But this you could even tell at times he was struggling to keep things going. Be prepared to struggle through it yourself. I couldn’t believe it was less than an hour and a half long. . .


  2. Liked your Titantic comparison. I think it is safe to say that I will be avoiding this one. Cannot handle anymore dull, romantic comedies these days. We get hit with them way too often, and to be honest, it is quite unfair. These money hungry filmmakers know that couples will pay to see them, so they shove out cliche ridden trash whenever they can. VILLAINOUS I TELL YA!


      • Oh, I saw it and thought it brilliant! Lol. There are a lot of ‘antics’ going on here that really were meant to be played out as the slapstick-y kind of ridiculous humor, but it was a big, big fail. Big as that doomed shit ship!


    • Yeah I can’t say the same about myself but even if you enjoy Amy Poehler’s schtick, there’s not much to grab a hold of here. She really is pretty terrible, as are a lot of the fine folks here. Save maybe for a few moments between Jenkins and O’Hara. Terrible shame.


      • Can’t say the idea of watching Baby Mama appeals either. With the exception of Mean Girls (which seems to be the highlight of a few careers) maybe both Tina Fey and Poehler are better in TV format.


    • Hearing nothing about it is better than hearing anything about ACOD because likely the only things you are going to read are negative. Shitty is a strong word to throw around, but I think it applies to the work done here. Avoid at all costs buddy


  3. Usually, I don’t mind if a comedy doesn’t have much of a plot to deal with, as long as the comedy gets me laughing and happy. However, such was not the case here, except for whenever Jenkins and O’Hara showed up. Good review Tom.


    • Thanks yo. Yeah you’re right if one or two of the things actually worked in its favor this would have been decent, but both elements failed. And failed badly. Sparing one or two moments with Jenkins and O’Hara, you’re right.


    • Yeah, it was disappointing as all get-out. I cautiously picked it up from the Redbox after scrolling through their/it’s collection, and realizing I had seen 90% of what it had in stock!! haha

      Landed on this one, remembered reading a few things about it. But yeah. This was kind of mistake to rent


    • It was pretty damn bad man. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This is mostly a reaction born from my massive disappointment with it. I knew it had been critically panned, but I was still willing to overlook that in favor of a possible surprise. But, nope. 😦


  4. It could have been a good little concept to springboard off of, but taking that Rom-com approach sounds like it really derailed the whole thing. Great review!


    • Thanks man. It’s a big old flop for sure. I wouldn’t really be bothered with getting to it at all, if you want to save some hair-pulling out. 😛

      Nothing frustrates me more than when you get a great cast (for the most part), a lot of potential, and then a director/writer who can’t do anything with either of those things. Adam Scott wasn’t great here, but the bigger issue was clearly an ineffective director. Never heard of this guy before, but hope I don’t hear from him again.


    • Why thank you Zoe!!! The title plus I really like some of the cast (Scott, Jenkins, umm.. . . Alba??) and I had hopes when picking it up that it would be sort of good. Big mistake. So let-down by this. But I can’t say I wasn’t warned beforehand. I saw so many negative reviews about it but the itch was still there. . . .ha


      • Me too. Although, considering I have Pompeii next on my list, it might be fairly safe to say another rant is a-comin’ 😛 Stay tuned!!!!!!!!!


    • hahaha Good call Chris, save yourself some eye-ball gouging. This was a really irritating little number. Ugh.


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