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Movie review: 'Adult World' aspires to be taken seriously

Adult World


Emma Roberts is a talented young actress and John Cusack we all know and love. Yet despite their best efforts, they can't save Adult World (opening today) from itself.

"Adult World."
2014 IFC Films

Roberts plays Amy, a struggling young poet who can't catch a break. Her parents are loving and supportive, but they don't plan to enable Amy's "hobby" forever. Desperate to make it on her own, she is thrust into the "real" adult world and begins looking for a job.

She finds one, sort of by accident, at an adult sex store ran by an aging couple and then meets the store manager, Alex (Evan Peters), and a cross-dressing diva named Rubia (Armando Riesco). As she tries to emulate her hero, the still-living poet, Rat Billings (Cusack), she begins to understand her limitations as a writer and how life experience can heavily influence one's own angst.

Amy eventually meets her idol, Mr. Billings, and forcibly works her way into his life.

Adult World aspires to have all of this strike a cool, indy-vibe, but much of it feels under-written and forced. The tone is light, but never all that funny, featuring characters that are not fully fleshed out.

Despite valiant efforts from Cusack and Roberts, there are all sorts of bad, cliched performances stuffed into this film. Armando Riesco's Rubia character is poorly written, poorly acted and never quite reaches what the filmmaker seems to be striving for.

The biggest failure of Adult World is that it doesn't portray a real world at all. It's a film that wants to say something about the transition from adolescence to adulthood but it fails to anchor itself in any relatable realm of reality. In Amy's world, it'll all work out, sit-com style, in the end.

Genre: Comedy

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated R

Starring: Emma Roberts, John Cusack, Evan Peters, Cloris Leachman, Armando Riesco

Written by Andy Cochran (feature-film screen-writing debut)

Based on the play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" by David Mamet

Directed by Scott Coffey (Ellie Parker)

Opens locally on Friday, Feb 28, 2014 (check for show times).

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How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
  • 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time
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