Sunday, May 31, 2015

Adult Beginners, a brief review

Adult Beginners

Watching the trailer to "Adult Beginners," I could not help but think the story was a little too similar to "Skeleton Twins." Honestly, the novelty of a comedian taking on a dramatic role is starting to wear off on me. It's wearing thin. If these comedic actors were taking actual chances and taking on interesting roles, that's one thing. But like "Skeleton Twins," "Adult Beginners" really just comes off as your typical indie dramedy. It's not easy to pull of this genre mix-up. Not everyone is Alexander Payne. It's hard to find the right balance of drama and comedy, which is why I always try to give major props to films that actually manage to do it right.

Having actually seen "Adult Beginners," though, I must say that it comes pretty close. It doesn't have the dry/dour tone of "Twins" or "St. Vincent." "Adult Beginners" is actually pretty light all the way through and Nick Kroll actually succeeds in incorporating his comedic voice into this material, as well-worn as it is. He plays a young entrepreneur whose latest business venture has failed so he decides to live with his sister for a little while so he can get his life back together.

A version of that plotline can describe half of the dramedies that come out these days, but Nick Kroll, along with his writers, manage to find ways to mine comedy in otherwise mundane settings. His sister and brother-in-law (played by Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale) are eating dinner in the dinner? Make them eat really fast. Kroll's character has to watch his nephew during the day? Make him take a shit in the potty training bowl.

It's the little things that make "Adult Beginners" an enjoyable film to watch, but it doesn't completely save it from entering overly familiar territory. It has a good cast and they have great chemistry together and there are enough funny moments that actually suggests that the movie isn't running on auto-pilot. I like Nick Kroll and I hope he gets bigger movie roles in the future, and it's nice to see him play a character that's more down-to-earth than usual. But he can do better than this.

Grade: C+

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