In the comedy film A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce), Carter (Adam Scott), a seemingly stable restaurant owner, finds his peace of mind and comfortable life dissolving when his younger brother (Clark Duke) gets engaged. Tasked with getting their still-battling divorced parents to attend the event, Carter finds their drama soon envelopes his life, too. While the filmmakers perfectly capture the pettiness, bitterness, and spitefulness of divorce, they provide a one-joke movie that’s short on laughs, despite a delightful cast of comic actors.
Deception, Infidelity, Immaturity
Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara play the warring parents, still spewing venom and refusing to see each other after 15 years of divorce. Both remarried, (to characters portrayed by Amy Poehler and Ken Howard, respectively), they lie, scream, and indulge in other childish behavior as Carter tries to make peace for his younger brother’s sake. Compounding this stress is Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Carter’s girlfriend of four years who indicates (truth in jest) she’s getting a little tired of waiting for his commitment. Based on what we learn of his past, it’s no wonder Carter chooses to remain single.
Threatening to crack from the pressure, he revisits his childhood therapist, Dr. Judith (Jane Lynch), and learns she was never really his therapist, but a book researcher documenting the devastating effects of divorce on children. He reads the book and sees himself through someone else’s eyes, a shocking realization that escalates his problems. Cue the wacky comedy background music.
The film includes additional scenes of deception and switched roles (I.e., parents acting like children and children acting like parents), most of which are uncomfortable rather than funny. The comic actors seem fully committed to these one-dimensional roles (he’s a cheater; she’s a shrew; he’s laidback; she’s manipulative), but are allowed little room to develop, expand, or grow their characters.
A.C.O.D. entertains enough, but reveals and amuses too little. Along with the one big joke, the movie does provide a wonderful ending, which is more than you can say about most marriages today.
- An Adult Child of Divorce learns that many years ago he was a research subject for a book about divorce’s unsettling effects on children.
- Starring Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clark Duke, Ken Howard, Jessica Alba
- Director: Stu Zicherman
- Writers: Ben Karlin, Stu Zicherman
- Genre: Comedy
- Run Time: 88 minutes
- MPAA Rating: R (for language and brief sexual content)
Source by Leslie Halpern