For the past generation or two divorce has become more and more common. Now there is a good portion of a couple of generations who are adult children of divorce. Their parents’ divorce seems to have had a great effect on them. Stuart Zicherman’s directorial debut is loosely based on his own experiences as a result of his parents’ divorce. He has decided to do this through the use of off-kilter humour mixed with poignancy. Sounds like a good plan and you do see what he was trying for, but poor execution sabotages what could have been a good film.
It has been many years since the divorce of Carter’s (Adam Scott – from television’s Parks and Recreation) parents. While it was occurring an author and pseudo therapist, Dr. Judith (played by Jane Lynch – from television’s Glee) used him as an example of how divorce negatively affects kids while writing her book. It is now many years later and Carter seems to have things together. He acts as protector for his younger brother Trey (Clark Duke – Kick-Ass 2, The Croods) from his parents, Hugh (Richard Jenkins – Jack Reacher, The Visitor) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara – Home Alone, The Nightmare Before Christmas), continued nonsense, has a beautiful girlfriend named Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Live Free or Die Hard, Final Destination 3) and owns a successful restaurant. It is only when his brother decides to marry his girlfriend of a couple of months, Kieko (Valerie Tian – Juno, 21 Jump Street), and invite both his parents that the loose strings of Carter’s life begin to completely unravel.
Human relationships are very complex. We all know that. They are also perfect fodder for comedy. That is also another widely acknowledged truth. Humans tend to make things more difficult than need be. And that can be turned into funny stuff, if done the right way. It requires a delicate hand and deft touch. It doesn’t take long into watch this film that you begin to realize that it really is an exercise in working through his own personal demons rather than trying to make the best film possible by the director, Stuart Zicherman. Such transparency makes things just a little less funny and a little more odd feeling. In other words, working through his issues through this film makes watching it awkward at times.
It still might have worked if the writing was stronger. Many scenes that could have been key are rendered trivial due to weak writing or just glossing over them. Having some more dramatic moments that worked well would have given the comedy that much more punch. Then it meanders a little seemingly in order to just get some unrelated jokes or silly scenes in. Topping off the missteps is a completely ridiculous happy ending that is just tacked on and attempts to leave things open to interpretation, but really will just frustrate the viewer. Too clever for its own good.
I’m sure some out there watching this film and who went through their parents’ divorcing will recognize themselves or other family members in certain aspects of the film. That, however, is not enough to make it a good film.
-Cast + Crew Discussions About A.C.O.D.
-Amy Poehler Outtakes
-What Does A.C.O.D. Stand For?
-Public Service Announcements