Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Movie Review: "Adult Beginners" (2014)

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Movie"Adult Beginners"
Director: Ross Katz
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

A narcissistic man named Jake is about to launch his brand new company, but it all falls apart the night before it is set to launch. Out of money and with hardly any friends in Manhattan after he burned one too many bridges, he decides to stay with his estranged, pregnant sister Justine, her husband Danny, and their young son Teddy in the suburbs. Eventually, Jake becomes Teddy's babysitter/nanny and is forced to face reality and grow up as an adult beginner.

We are huge fans of Nick Kroll's witty, sarcastic humor. We loved his "Kroll Show" and were very sad to see it end. Bobby Cannavale is one of my favorite unappreciated actors, and we love Rose Byrne. Together, these three make up a decent cast in "Adult Beginners," a movie that tries really hard to be poignant and important but suffers from a surprising lack of inspiration and humor. Don't get us wrong, this is an okay movie, but we wish it had been. more of everything. Kroll plays Jake, a self-absorbed hipster living in Manhattan on the brink of starting a new company. All of his friends have invested lots and lots of money in it with the promise of good returns. Unfortunately for Jake, the company crashes and burns before it ever even starts. With a dwindling supply of money and basically no friends or a place to live, he reluctantly hauls it to the suburbs to accost his pregnant and estranged sister Justine, played by Byrne, and convinces her to let him stay with her and her family. Out of options for a babysitter, Justine agrees to let Jake stay if he agrees to become her "manny" (male nanny) and take care of her three-year-old son Teddy, played by Caleb and Matthew Paddock. As time progresses, Jake slowly realizes what is important in life in a journey of self discovery starring pools, pot, and poor life choices.

We readily admit Nick Kroll's humor isn't for everyone, and his dry, sarcastic tone of voice may put a lot of people off. It makes him sound like he doesn't care and is underacting, but in a way, he's perfect for the role of Jake. With a slight hipster, New York twang to his voice, he owns this character. Byrne has an inherent maternal instinct as Justine, so caring for her brother seems to come naturally to her even after years of not seeing him. Byrne is so good wherever she goes that it's hard to fault with her performance in this movie. Justine and Jake constantly butt heads, and Jake finds himself in the middle of a situation where he is forced to choose sides. Kroll surprisingly plays this part well as he is torn between his sister's future and keeping his brother-in-law Danny's secrets. Danny, played by Bobby Cannavale, is a major asshole. It sort of pains us to say it but he plays the part convincingly. He puts up a good front when he's around Justine, and makes sense why he and Byrne shine together on screen: they have been dating one another since 2012. though. Unfortunately, what makes "Adult Beginners" suffer is its lack of originality and a lack of impassioned oomph for such an emotionally-charged subject. What could have been a touching, eye-opening movie about having to move back home after such a financial loss and a loss of dreams is merely turned into a run-of-the-mill but likable enough dram-com. "Adult Beginners" is fine, but don't go in expecting to be wowed.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 44%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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