Dr. Donna Copeland’s
EMMA ROBERTS EVAN PETERS JOHN CUSACK
Emma Roberts is really trying to branch out; now it seems she is taking the route of her aunt Julia and further trying to shed her childhood image by doing something in the “adult” market. She isn’t playing a hooker like Julia’s famous role, nor is she standing on the verge of a breakout. Adult World appeared to have a nice little indie vibe but instead overshoots and lands a lot closer to the Lola Versus realm of movies than it should. Roberts gives this year’s most relentlessly annoying performance; it’s worse than nails on a chalk board for 90 minutes. The fact that every character in the film was as annoyed with her as I was is the only comfort it provides.
Fresh out of college and with only one goal in mind, Amy (Roberts) doesn’t want to be a poet, she is one. She cancels the insurance on her car, bleeds her parents dry and enters every poetry contest she can find. After enough of her immature behavior, her parents kick her out and she is forced to take a job working at an adult video rental store. Amy has never been in love and never thought about anything outside of getting published and being successful. When she meets her favorite poet, Rat Billings (Cusack),she begins to stalk him, annoy and pester him to no end until he gives up and allows her to clean his house.
The only thing worse than giving all the top film roles to male actors is giving women roles that showcase the worst and most annoying types of women (i.e. every role Greta Gerwig has ever played). Roberts's naiveté is so contradictory that it destroys any type of validity her character hoped to have. I refuse to believe that a 23 year old female living in Syracuse, New York doesn’t know what a bus route is, doesn’t know that Adult World means something related to porn, or any of the other obvious life lessons she is devoid of. Amy isn’t a character as much as she is a caricature, or a poorly written male version of a young woman.
The similarities with Gerwig’s Lola Versus, is the amount of pathetic behavior the audience is asked to endure. “Everyone needs to stop calling me a child,” she says to her parents; but she acts worse than a child. The film, which is only 90 minutes but seems to go on forever, finally ends up in a reasonable manner with life lessons learned and Cusack’s character finally giving her the advice we hoped someone would relay in the first twenty minutes. The double meaning of adult world is the only creative bit in the entire movie that caters to every stereotype you can imagine.
Final Thought – Actual porn might be less annoying and more rewarding than what you see here.
By: Dustin Chase
The Indie film, Adult World, is a fine coming-of-age movie—grainy, raw, and agonizing—but with moments of cleverness, fun, and inspiration. Amy (Emma Roberts) is a bright young woman who aspires to be a poet. The problem is, she keeps getting rejection letters from publications, is saddled with student loans, and her parents decide to “cut the umbilical cord” and insist she give up on her dream. She refuses to give up her dream, but makes a valiant effort to become independent, which means ending up working in an adult porn store called “Adult World.” Here, she encounters unexpected characters who will assist her in growing up, not by furthering her aspirations necessarily, but in supporting her during some bitter lessons.
There is the bookstore manager, Alex (Evan Peters), whom she rather looks down upon simply because he works where he does; a frequent transvestite customer Rubia (Armando Riesco) to whom she turns at a desperate moment; and, finally, Rat Billings (John Cusack), an aging poet who is her idol, but who rebuffs her at every turn, except when he feels forced to allow her to be his maid after she stalks him and confronts him for the third time.
The story, written by Andy Cochran, is engaging, realistic, and well directed by Scott Coffey. It’s an impressive production, all the way around, including the music by BC Smith. The songs toward the end singing, “I feel alone; I feel all right” and “What about us?” added much to the conclusion. Emma Roberts is authentic in her portrayal of a suburban 19 year-old who does not know much about the world at large, but is curious and eager to learn. Also, she’s a fighter. To her credit, somewhere along the way, she has acquired the gift of acceptance of people very different from her, although to be fair, she sometimes has to be lovingly hit over the head by people who care about her to remind her of graciousness.
John Cusack is refreshing in his fine performance of a rather cynical, aging writer who sincerely resists the over-enthusiastic pursuit of him by Amy, a besotted fan, but nevertheless maintains a mentor’s stance in fostering her growth. His way of getting messages to her, while painful, are clearly helpful. Two other performances should be recognized; those of Evan Peters and Armando Riesco, who fill out a fine cast.
Adult World is a step above many coming-of-age stories in its grounding in reality while injecting unusual encounters, its kernels of wisdom along the way (“It’s not about being famous; it’s just something I like to do.”), and its refraining from stereotypic interactions between a famous person and an idealistic fan.
By: Donna R. Copeland