Release Date: 14-Feb-2014 (USA)
Length: 97 minutes
With: Emma Roberts, Evan Peters and John Cusack
Kurt Vonnegut was 47 years old when Slaughterhouse Five was published. He had witnessed the horrors of World War II and used his experiences from the bombings at Dresden to craft a masterful story of satirical science fiction. Samuel L. Jackson was 43 years old when he had his breakout role as Gator in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever after doing minor roles in films for almost twenty years.
The concept of fame at a young age is one that entices us all. Many of us think that if we hit 30 and aren’t famous yet then we’re doomed to be failures. Adult World (so aptly titled because it takes place in a porn store that shares that name and also addresses the anxieties associated with post-college life) tackles this topic head on.
Recent college graduate Amy (Emma Roberts) finds herself in incredible debt and cutoff from her parents who had been supporting her non-existent poetry career. After a series of disappointing job interviews (including one of the film’s biggest laugh-out-loud moments where a prospective employer folds her résumé in half after seeing she was a Poetry Major), Amy finds work at the only place that would take her. Adult World is a mom and pop owned porn store managed by another aimless twenty-something Alex (Evan Peters). The job allows Amy to move out of her parent’s house, get a place with her friend Candace (played by the adorable Shannon Woodward) and become the “protégé” of locally famous poet Rat Billings (John Cusack).
Director Scott Coffey must have learned a thing or two from being an actor in four David Lynch movies as he gets the most out of everyone in this movie and also makes a brief appearance himself. The onscreen chemistry between real-life couple Emma Roberts and Evan Peters is great. They play off each other’s timing like an old comedy team (something we didn’t really get to see them do on American Horror Story). John Cusack plays a curmudgeon quite well and provides the proverbial kick in the ass that Amy needs to progress her life beyond just dreaming about being a famous poet. The best performance, however, comes from Armando Riesco who plays a cross-dresser named Rubia, a frequent customer to Adult World.
The movie certainly has its faults. There are some awkwardly unrealistic scenes such as Amy running out of the porn store the first time she enters it as if she was a character on Benny Hill. The film also falls victim to a few typical Indie film clichés such overly intelligent language at the oddest moments and the hit-you-over-the-head “Welcome to America Suburbia” tracking shots. But Adult World doesn’t seem to be a film that is trying to be quirky for quirky’s sake and has some real genuinely funny and sincere moments.