A.C.O.D. (2013)

More people now than ever before are getting divorced from their significant other. What is the statistic at now? 50%? More than that? Regardless, “together forever” apparently no longer means either. A.C.O.D., which stands for “Adult Children of Divorce” is a film that looks at how divorces impact children later on in life. If it was funnier perhaps it would be worth seeing but it’s simply not very funny, especially for a 90-minute comedy.

Carter (Adam Scott) is the main ACOD we follow. He was part of a study done by Dr. Judith (Jane Lynch) many years earlier after his parents went through a terrible divorce. Now, his brother, Trey (Clark Duke), is going to get married, and Try has asked Carter to get both parents to come to the wedding, even though they haven’t even been in the same room together in years. Dr. Judith also decides she wants to do a follow-up study, which would see how the divorces impacted the original children who are now adults.

The parents: Hugh (Richard Jenkins), who is now on his umpteenth wife, Sondra (Amy Poehler), and is a fairly successful businessman. Melissa (Catherine O’Hara), who … I can’t remember anything about her other than she’s married to someone. Anyway, you can tell that there are unresolved issues between them the first time Carter gets them together. As it turns out, one of those issues is that they still have very strong feelings for one another. As the tagline says, “He’s about to ruin a perfectly good divorce.”

He, being Carter, is also going to have to reevaluate his own feelings on marriage, as well as protect his brother from the “ruined divorce” that was caused by his parents reconnecting because … he doesn’t want his brother to see that true love exists, I guess? Honestly I’m not sure on this one. Why wouldn’t you want someone who’s about to get married to see that? Perhaps because the character is so warped that he has no concept of love or commitment? Maybe I missed something. I was dozing off while A.C.O.D. was playing.

This is a tasty premise and one that offers a lot of potential for both comedy and insight into relationships. It doesn’t really capitalize on either. Its script isn’t funny enough to deliver many laughs and anything it has to say isn’t delivered in an effective method. The characters are too random or underdeveloped (or both) for any of its points to be brought across through them. They don’t even exist as caricatures; they’re just there, taking up space and occasionally saying something “funny.”

The director is Stu Zicherman, who also co-wrote the script. I’m sure he’s speaking from experience. Indie projects like this often exist because similar situations have occurred to their director and he or she feels the need to dress up that experience in a feature-length movie. If that’s true, they often have a lot of heart, because there’s a real emotional investment for the person helming it. That’s absent here. Either through a lack of filmmaking prowess or a style that makes it feel indifferent, you can’t tell if Zicherman cares about anything on-screen.

It’s also all incredibly predictable and as shallow as a mediocre sitcom — albeit with an intriguing premise. You’ll be able to tell where the story is going many scenes before it gets there. Without anything unique or interesting to say — or a method with which to say it — this makes for a boring watch. Using its comedic talent — Poehler, Scott, Lynch, Jenkins, O’Hara, and Duke are all often funny — to greater effect would have at least kept A.C.O.D. watchable, but for the most part it’s just dull and unfunny.

A.C.O.D. feels like a waste of talent. You have a bunch of good-to-great actors here and they’re given subpar material that nobody could make work. The lines played for laughs aren’t going to be funny regardless of the person delivering them. The script doesn’t provide much reason for the actors to act; most of these parts could be played in their sleep. You could take someone off the street and give them a part in this movie and that person would turn in a performance almost as good.

That’s not to criticize the actors, but those behind the camera. The screenplay is poor and the characters are about as deep and interesting as a jar of pickles placed in a swimming pool. No, don’t think too hard about that. I certainly didn’t. Actors aren’t stupid and when they see their part could be played by anyone they’re not going to fully invest in it. Everyone’s likable but that’s about all that could be said. Talent is wasted and wasted again in this movie.

A.C.O.D. is a waste of time and talent. Hopefully it didn’t take too much time and effort to shoot, as the result isn’t worth seeing. It’s not particularly funny, sharp, or insightful. What is it, then? A dull slog, for most of the time. The actors aren’t given anything to work with, there’s no heart to the production, and there’s no depth or smarts to be found anywhere. It’s not altogether painful — the actors are likable, at least, and there’s a laugh or two to be found — but it’s not worth dedicating 90 minutes of your life toward.

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