×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A.C.O.D.

Assembling a terrific cast is the main achievement of screenwriter Stuart Zicherman's directorial debut, "A.C.O.D." (an awkward acronym for "Adult Children of Divorce"), but the ensemble's crack comic timing can only go so far to compensate for uneven scripting.

With:
Carter - Adam Scott
Hugh - Richard Jenkins
Melissa - Catherine O'Hara
Lauren - Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Trey - Clark Duke
Sondra - Amy Poehler
Gary - Ken Howard
Dr. Judith - Jane Lynch

Assembling a terrific cast is the main achievement of screenwriter Stuart Zicherman’s directorial debut, “A.C.O.D.” (an awkward acronym for “Adult Children of Divorce”), but the ensemble’s crack comic timing can only go so far to compensate for uneven scripting. Essentially just another movie about a thirtysomething guy unable to make a romantic commitment and grappling with the reasons why, the short and fitfully laugh-out-loud picture will make its strongest connection with audiences on the smallscreen or VOD.

Adam Scott is a wise choice for the sort of comedic Everyman role Ben Stiller might have played five or 10 years ago: successful restaurateur Carter, who has spent every year since his ninth birthday keeping the peace between his bitterly divorced parents, Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara), by keeping them as far apart as possible. With the sudden engagement of his younger brother Trey (Clark Duke) and the discovery that he was unwittingly one of the subjects for the bestselling “Children of Divorce” by the woman he thought was his therapist, Dr. Judith (Jane Lynch), Carter is forced to really consider how managing his parents’ divorce is working for him. Is their mutual hostility responsible for his inability to put a ring on lovely and endlessly patient yoga-instructor g.f. Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)? And what will it do to Carter’s carefully constructed worldview when his parents unexpectedly show interest in reconciliation?

“A.C.O.D.” aims to explore the first generation of American adults for whom divorce is the norm and not the exception, but Zicherman and co-writer Ben Karlin’s screenplay settles for routine misunderstandings and conflicts, and only pops when the actors are free to play off each other’s natural gifts. The ensemble gels effortlessly, perhaps due to Scott’s previous professional experience with several co-stars: He played Jenkins’ son in “Step Brothers,” worked with Lynch on cult TV comedy “Party Down” and currently stars as Amy Poehler’s love interest in TV’s “Parks and Recreation” (a relationship that’s playfully tweaked here in Poehler’s too-brief appearances as Carter’s contentious stepmother).

There’s significant pleasure in seeing Jenkins and Lynch riff in pure oddball mode, O’Hara balancing her own patented eccentricity with surprising sex appeal in a rare screen appearance and Winstead elevating a thankless girlfriend role with intelligence and warmth. Scott brings his customary smarts and sharp delivery to an ultimately bland protagonist; Carter’s existential crisis simply isn’t interesting enough to sustain the movie, even at a scant 87 minutes, no matter how likable the leading man. This isn’t a case of a cast being squandered, simply not being challenged at the level it deserves.

Tech credits are solid, with no sign of strain in achieving the visual sheen of a mainstream studio comedy. Numerous crew members pop up to reveal their own status as adult children of divorce (plus a few children of still married parents) in a mini-docu segment that plays over the closing credits.

Popular on Variety

A.C.O.D.

Production: A Black Bear Pictures/Superego Industries/Process Media production. Produced by Teddy Schwarzman, Ben Karlin, Tim Perell. Executive producers, Adam Scott, George Paaswell. Co-producers, Ben Stillman. Directed by Stuart Zicherman. Screenplay, Ben Karlin, Zicherman.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), John Bailey; editor, Jeffrey Wolf; music supervisor, Michael Hill; production designer, John Paino; art director, Sheila Nash; set decorator, Robert Covelman; costume designer, David C. Robinson; sound, Bud Raymond; supervising sound editors, Dave Paterson, Mary Ellen Porto; re-recording mixer, Rob Fernandez; stunt coordinator, Scott Dale; assistant director, Curtis A. Smith Jr.; casting, Laura Rosenthal. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres), Jan. 23, 2013. Running time: 87 MIN.

Cast: Carter - Adam Scott
Hugh - Richard Jenkins
Melissa - Catherine O'Hara
Lauren - Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Trey - Clark Duke
Sondra - Amy Poehler
Gary - Ken Howard
Dr. Judith - Jane LynchWith: Jessica Alba, Valerie Tian, Sarah Burns, Adam Pally.

More Scene

  • 'Bombshell' Charlize Theron on Sexual Harassment,

    'Bombshell': Why Charlize Theron Was Terrified of Playing Megyn Kelly

    Charlize Theron is getting some of the best buzz of her career for channeling Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” but the Oscar-winning actress admits she almost turned down the role. “I was shit scared,” Theron said during a question-and-answer session following a Manhattan screening of “Bombshell” on Sunday. Partly, she was worried about portraying someone who [...]

  • Natalie Portman Benjamin Millipied LA Dance

    Natalie Portman, Benjamin Millepied Help Raise Over $1 Million For L.A. Dance Project

    Natalie Portman may be joining Chris Hemsworth in Marvel’s “Thor 4: Love and Thunder,” but as the petite, Dior-clad actress struck a range of poses on the carpet inside downtown Los Angeles gallery space Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel on Saturday night, it was impossible to imagine her wielding an enormous hammer. But then, the Oscar [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content