Tribeca 2013: “Adult World” – Review by MovieManMenzel

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A coming of age tale circled around porn and poetry

Adult World tells the story of Amy (Emma Roberts), who absolutely adores writing poetry. She studied poetry in college and spends all her money sending out poetry submissions to various newspapers, journals, and magazines. Unfortunately for Amy, she keeps getting rejected and her parents are now telling her to put the poetry to the side and start living life as an adult. Now, without the help of her parents helping fund her creative endeavors, Amy has no choice but to attempt to get a real job and as one might guess, she can’t seem to find one anywhere. With nowhere left to go, Amy decides to take a job at a local porn shop called “Adult World.” It is at Adult World where Amy soon learns about life and what growing up is all about.

When the credits began to roll as Adult World came to a close, I couldn’t help but feel like I wanted more and I don’t mean that in a good way. What I mean by that is that I wanted more from the film than it gave me.  The film focuses on a creative outcast named Amyt (Emma Roberts), who loves everything poetry but lacks the experience to make it feel powerful. Oddly enough that’s exactly same way that I feel about the film in terms of its execution.

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I feel like Adult World was trying so hard to be unique that it just couldn’t break through the predictability factor that most coming of age films suffer from. I watched this movie and saw almost everything coming from a mile away. There were maybe one or two surprises within the film, but I don’t know if they were as shocking as the script seemed to suggest. I found myself just wanting to shout AND… over and over again while watching this film. There is no other way to say this other then I simply just kept wanting more from this film.

Now, I must give credit where credit is due and the two lead performances were top notch. Emma Roberts was trying her hardest to deliver a performance that shined through the film’s mediocre script. Roberts is absolutely delightful as Amy because of how much energy she puts into the role. Amy is likable, fun, and for the most part, believable. Also, I won’t lie, I am a sucker for creative female leads in films. Along with Roberts, you have Evan Peters, who most of you probably know from American Horror Story. I personally found his portrayal of Alex to be noteworthy, because he was the perfect mix of your typical masculine guy mixed with some creative flair.  It should also be noted that both Roberts and Peters had amazing on-screen chemistry and played off one another really well.

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As for the rest of the cast, I had mix feelings about John Cusack as Rat Billings; the poet who Amy was obsessed with. I thought the whole sarcastic tone of the character didn’t really play that well after a while. Honestly, it kind of got old quickly. The other issue with his character is that I really didn’t feel the connection between him and Roberts, which made it difficult to care about that subplot of the story. Lastly, I must say that I completely and utterly despised the Rubia character which was introduced early on and kept popping up throughout the film. I felt that Aramndo Riesco was trying way too hard to play a sassy transvestite

As for some other things that I liked about the film, I enjoyed the whole backdrop of the story being setup around a porn store and a speech that Rat Billings gave about how not everyone is great at being creative. That speech really made me think about a lot of things in our society including how teachers in school always tell kids that we can be anything they want to be when they grow up, while the truth is some  simply can’t. Its a real shame because at times the messages that the film was conveying were powerful but the clichéd  story elements got in the way and brought the overall film down.

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I think the vast majority of the film’s flaws are within the clichéd and predictable script. The script, which was written by Andy Cochran, offers some a fresh backdrop into this genre but at the same time falls for a lot of the same old tricks. The love story is predictable as is the whole growing up storyline that occurs as the film unfolds. At points, the film just dragged on because it just so predictable to the viewer. There are so many scenes where you as an audience member just think to yourself “of course, that would happen” like when Amy’s best friend get published before her and Amy gets mad about it. And if that’s not bad enough, the film features a scene where Amy and Alex get really upset at one another and cut each other off completely, only to rekindle their feelings within 5 minutes. Not only did this scene feel so cliched, it also felt scripted and unrealistic. There were just too many of these moments that you couldn’t help but be distracted by it.

As for the direction, I found it to be ok. I don’t really have any real feelings towards the direction except for one scene that really irked me. There is a scene where Amy is mad and throwing books at Rat and the scene feels so incredible forced. Not only that it was filmed in a way that took me out of the film altogether and made me remember that I was just watching actors play characters. It bugged the crap out of me because everything from the framing to the expressions on Roberts and Cusack’s face just felt as if these actors were bored and phoning in their performances.

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All in all, Adult World was a hit and miss for me. I found certain elements of the film to be smart and unique but at other moments I felt bored by the large amount of clichés and predictable moments.  I will admit that both Roberts and Peters gave solid performances that do make this film worth watching even with the mediocre script. I can’t sit here and say that I disliked this film, but I can’t say that I loved it either. There were moments throughout that I was highly invested in the film and its characters but then just moments later, I was completely checked out. I think that if you are a fan of coming of age films that you might want to check it out when it hits Blu ray or DVD but I honestly don’t think that anyone will find this film all that memorable will probably forget it by the time they wake up the next morning.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Adult World is a 5 out of 10.

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