A.C.O.D.

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Posted October 18, 2013 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

2.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: comedy
 
Director: Stu Zichermen
 
MPAA Rating: R
 
Actors: Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clark Duke, Jessica Alba
 
Length: 88 minutes
 
Release Date: 10/17/2013
 
Studio: Black Bear Pictures
 
 
What We Thought

Big screen divorce sit-com gets a few laughs, but story is orphaned.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Given that the divorce rate in America is roughly 50%, it’s only natural to wonder how children of marital dysfunction might turn out later in life.  A.C.O.D. tries to answer that question, to occasionally humorous effect but mixed results.
     Carter (Adam Scott), a successful restauranteur, finds out that his younger brother Trey (Clark Duke) has proposed to Kieko (Valerie Tian), his girlfriend of a whopping four months, both of whom live in his garage.  Carter is less than thrilled at the idea, as both he and his brother are A.C.O.D.:  Adult Children of Divorced Parents.
     Trey, however, wants their parents, Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara), to come to the wedding, two people who cannot be in the same room together.  Hugh says of Melissa, “If I see that woman, I will kick her in the balls.”  Melissa, on the other hand, tells Carter, “Tell me you are not your father’s son!”  Such dialog is A.C.O.D.‘s strong suit, often a brand of cringe comedy found in The Office and elsewhere.
     Especially cringe-worthy is when Carter has set up his divorced parents on a blind date of sorts, forcing the two to sit down and work out their differences for the sake of Trey’s upcoming marriage.  The date goes much better than Carter has planned, though, when he catches the pair in the one moment no child ever wants to see their parents in, divorced or otherwise.  It’s a profoundly uncomfortable–and very funny–moment.
     Carter goes to his former child-therapist Dr. Judith (Jane Lynch) to help get him through the ordeal, as she already knows his history.  However, Judith reveals to him that she was never a therapist as such; she used him as a case study for a pop psychology book that became a best-seller.
     Carter doesn’t think he’s at all the maladjusted wreck her book predicted.  However, his girlfriend Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) still doesn’t have a key to his apartment after four years of dating.
     The purpose to all of this is to create awkward moments, like when Carter’s dysfunctional family meets Keiko’s, but none of it really goes anywhere.  In other words, A.C.O.D. is less of a story with a plot than a big-screen situational comedy.  As a sit-com, it’s occasionally funny, but a few dead spots crop up as it goes into the final act.
     As a story, to the extent that there is one, subplots go nowhere, such as a romantic encounter between Carter and Michelle (Jessica Alba), likewise an A.C.O.D. from Judith’s book.  The fate of the relationship between Lauren and Carter is left hanging, and a crisis in Carter’s career goes unresolved.  Whether Trey and Kieko end up married or not is hardly a pay-off either way.
     The purpose to all of this is to create awkward moments, like when Carter’s dysfunctional family meets Keiko’s, but none of it really goes anywhere.  In other words, A.C.O.D. is less of a story with a plot than a big-screen situational comedy.  As a sit-com, it’s occasionally funny, but a few dead spots crop up as it goes into the final act.
     As a story, to the extent that there is one, subplots go nowhere, such as a romantic encounter between Carter and Michelle (Jessica Alba), likewise an A.C.O.D. from Judith’s book.  The fate of the relationship between Lauren and Carter is left hanging, and a crisis in Carter’s career goes unresolved.  Whether Trey and Kieko end up married or not is hardly a pay-off either way.
     A.C.O.D. is the directorial debut of Stu Zicherman, and the inexperience shows.  Take for example a moment where Hugh forces a baseball cap onto Carter, who grudgingly puts it on, then takes it off when his pop’s back is turned–shot from behind Carter when we should be looking face-front when he does this.
     Overall, A.C.O.D. is a passable film, redeemed by its humorous dialog and the likeable presence of Adam Scott, who has comedic chemistry with his costars.  It’s a fairly strong cast, and the subject matter is relevant, but there was a need here to do more with its pieces that the film does not meet.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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