Here’s a list of Adam Scott’s last four movies (besides his supporting role in Walter Mitty): Friends with Kids, The Bachelorette, See Girl Run, and A.C.O.D.. They have several things in common: They were all straight to streaming movies; they all featured Adam Scott in a lead role; they all had outstanding supporting casts; and they were all decidedly mediocre. More than mediocre, they were all aimless, formulaic rom-coms that didn’t subvert formulas so much as they just kind of quit on the formula three-quarters through.
It’s a very strange run that Adam Scott has been on, and I’m not sure how to explain it: I have a keen sense that he makes movies for his friends (which is almost certainly the case with Friends with Kids, written and directed by Jon Hamm’s partner, Jennifer Westfeldt) without any real investment in their outcomes, because none of the scripts for any of these films could’ve suggested, in any way, that they’d be hits outside of the VOD market (where The Bachelorette actually did manage to turn a tidy profit).
They’re incredibly bland movies, and A.C.O.D. manages to be the blandest of the four, despite one hell of a great cast, which includes Amy Poehler, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Clark Duncan, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, Adam Pally, and even Sarah Vowell. It’s the kind of film, like the other three Adam Scott straight-to-streaming movies, that I got snookered into watching based on the cast alone, and it’s yet another disappointment.
Here, Scott plays Carter, a restaurant owner with some residual issues remaining from his parents vicious divorce when Carter was a teenager. He’s in a relationship with Lauren (Winstead), though he’s afraid of committing to marriage. When his little brother (Clark Duncan) decides to get hitched on the spur of the moment, all of Carter’s repressed feelings come to the surface when he attempts to convince his father (Jenkins) and mother (O’Hara) to make an appearance at the wedding, even though they loathe each other and haven’t seen each other in two decades.
Carter seeks out his childhood therapist (Lynch) for advice, only to discover that she wasn’t a therapist at all: She’s a writer, who had written a best-selling book about children of divorce featuring Carter as one of the major case studies. Complications arise when his parents reunion turns into an affair, which could potentially disrupt his life further because his step-mom (played by Amy Poehler) also owns the space he leases for his restaurant. Meanwhile, the Lynch’s writer character puts into motion a sequel, Adult Children of Divorce (A.C.O.D.)
There’s some modest potential in the set-up and premise, but the screenplay never really taps into it. It exploits a lot of sitcom tropes, never gains any steam whatsoever, limps along like a dead fish, and no one in the cast really seems all that interested in attempting to transcend the material. It’s not bad, so much as it’s boring, which — with this cast — is almost as hard to swallow as the fact that Monuments Men with that cast was also strangely boring. How is it possible to put that many great people in the same movie and end up with a film so completely forgettable?
A.C.O.D. is currently streaming on iTunes with a $.99 rental, and the truth is, it’s not really worth it. It’s a waste of time, and more troubling, a terrible waste of a damn good cast.