Movie Review: "A.C.O.D."
Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: January 23, 2013
Directed by: Stu Zicherman
Rating: 3 out of 5
Comedies often arise out of unfortunate circumstances, and "A.C.O.D" takes that concept to the next level. The result is a film that is over-the-top zany even though it deals with exceptionally difficult subject matter. The title is shorthand for adult child of divorce, and the directorial debut of Stu Zicherman is full of similarly risky subjects that are normally far beyond the scope of most comedies. The film saw a Sundance release, and it follows the form of many less traditional comedies to come out of that prestigious film festival.
"A.C.O.D." relates the story of Carter (Adam Scott), a seemingly normal man who runs a restaurant. Underneath his semiprofessional appearance, Carter has never come to grips with the divorce of his parents fifteen years previous. When Carter's brother Trey (Clark Duke) announces that he's ready to get married, Carter tries his best to get their parents, Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O'Hara), to act like civilized people while in the same room together. Unfortunately, the bitterness of the divorce makes this an almost impossible task. Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Carter's girlfriend and the only seemingly sane person in the tale, tries to help Carter accept his parents' divorce and let go of the past.
The cast of "A.C.O.D." is what really makes the movie shine. Though the tale is told through the eyes of the main character, Jenkins and O'Hara as his parents really steal the show in every scene that they have, with Jenkins performing admirably as the playboy old man and O'Hara saying whatever comes into her mind. Likewise, Duke and Winstead deliver stellar performances that really bring their characters to life while adding to the overall hilarity of the piece. Scott ties everything together nicely, and he seems to have a real chemistry with all the cast members that makes their fictional relationships seem all the more realistic.
The cinematography in the film is nearly perfect for a zany comedy. The camera flits back and forth between characters seamlessly, and the lighting highlights the wackiness exceptionally well. Overall, the audio is good, though there are some scenes where crowd sounds do make it difficult to hear every joke. Some jokes are even interwoven with these sounds, providing humorous background for those who listen closely. Likewise, the camera angles do a good job of picking up all of the crazy antics that ensue throughout the film. However, there are some areas where a different angle may have provided more insight into what was going on and not left seemingly key information off the screen. One cabin scene towards the end of the film is a prime example of this.
The script of "A.C.O.D." is one area that seems to need refinement. While the dialogue is excellent, especially for such a humorous piece, there are times when the zany action feels forced and a bit excessive. Part of this is the interrelation between the comedic delivery and the more serious subject matter of the film, and that seems to arise almost entirely from the script, not as a directorial choice. Characters often deliver superb lines that come across as awkward due to the other activity going on in the scene. This does not overly detract from the film, but it may be noticeable for some viewers.
The film is the silver screen debut of director Stu Zicherman, and it serves as a wonderful introductory piece to his personal style. The pacing of the movie is just right for the first half of the film. As events come to a head, however, the film begins to feel a bit rushed. This may be intentional, but it cranks up the antics to a level closer to cartoons than film comedies. Combined with the subject matter, this exceptional level of zaniness may be off-putting to some moviegoers.
"A.C.O.D." is a great choice for those who like silly, fun films that rely heavily on fast jokes and comedic storytelling. The few stutters apparent from the script and directorial choices may keep it from being one of the best in the genre, but the film debut of Stu Zicherman is nonetheless a fun romp and a great experience. Moviegoers should find lots to love in the crazy adventures of Carter and his family. The movie is likely to entertain those who enjoy romantic comedies or over-the-top films that focus more on humor than drama.