Crackin' up

Crackin' up

‘A.C.O.D.’ takes hilarious aim at dysfunctional families and one man’s 
attempts to avoid his parents’ fate

By Carl Kozlowski 10/03/2013

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Every once in a while Hollywood studios time their films’ early critic screenings too late to meet deadlines. That’s sadly the case this week with “Gravity” and “Runner Runner,” but I urge you to catch up on some of the terrific releases of recent weeks, including “Prisoners,” “Don Jon” and especially “Enough Said.” 

This week, I’ll give you an early heads-up on an extremely witty movie that easily matches Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and Nicole Holofcener’s “Enough Said” as one of the best-written films of the year. “A.C.O.D.” stands for “adult child of divorce” and this hilarious comedy about marriage, divorce, commitment and the fears that are rooted in each of those areas will open Oct. 11 at the Laemmle Playhouse 7. 

Starring Adam Scott of the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” as well as an ace supporting cast that includes his “Parks” costar Amy Poehler — along with Catherine O’Hara, Richard Jenkins, May Elizabeth Winstead, Jane Lynch and red-hot young talent Clark Duke — “A.C.O.D.” takes bull’s-eye aim at the ways in which people try to fake familial perfection even when their reality is a disaster.

Scott plays Carter, a restaurateur who is both a control freak and a commitment-phobe after surviving his parents (Jenkins and O’Hara) each having three marriages. He has been stringing along his girlfriend (Winstead) for four years, while his younger brother Trey (Duke) announces giddily that he’s leaping into an engagement with a woman he’s known just four months. 

When Trey asks Carter to force their parents to reconcile enough to face each other at his wedding, Carter believes only disaster can come of it. But the attempt results in a shocking turn of events that turns his world upside down at the same time that a psychologist (Lynch) approaches him to be interviewed for a book on the lives of those who are A.C.O.D.s. 

Director Stu Zicherman, a veteran script doctor who is currently writing a Disney movie with Steve Martin, co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Karlin, a former “Daily Show” head writer who won nine Emmys writing and producing for Jon Stewart. Those credentials ensure that the movie provides non-stop laughs with jokes written at the height of their intelligence. 

The cast meets the challenge, with O’Hara making the most of her meatiest role in years and Jenkins working his world-weary countenance to maximum comic effect. Lynch doesn’t stretch much beyond playing a nice version of her Emmy-winning “Glee” role as the shrink, but her surprising warmth grounds the movie as she helps Carter finally accept his fate and figure out how to break the patterns of his parents. 

As Carter, Adam Scott rebounds nicely from his smarmy turn in one of 2012’s worst movies, “Friends With Kids.” That film tried to pull off the same magic of creating witty banter about relatable relationship problems. In that case, he played a guy who was commitment-phobic because he couldn’t stand children, but its attempts at humor had a toxic tone that collapsed in the final moments as his character reconciled with his girlfriend by using perhaps the vilest pickup line in recent movie memory. 

Just as Carter makes big strides forward in “A.C.O.D.,” so does Adam Scott. Here’s hoping he’ll keep building on that promise with future films.

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