MRR Review: "Adult World"

Photo Credit: IFC Films

Rating: R

Length: 97 minutes

Release Date: February 14, 2014

Directed by: Scott Coffey

Genre: Comedy


Some movies touch the heart of a youthful generation in a way that comes to define it, and "Adult World" is one of those movies. This comedy combines quirky characters with edgy humor to create a fun film that is worth watching more than once. Aspiring poet Amy is tired of her piling literary failures and life at home with her parents, so she gets a job at a local sex shop to start supporting herself. She meets a unique cast of characters and begins pestering a poet who she idolizes named Rat Billings. "Adult World" does not offer any spectacular visual effects or ground-breaking plot points, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable movie that touches some important themes.

Amy (Emma Roberts) is a sheltered, naive young woman who has recently graduated from college with a poetry major and is determined to become a great poet. However, her literary submissions are continually rejected, she lives with her parents, and she has racked up more than $90,000 in student loan debt. After her parents give her a much-needed reality check, explaining that they can no longer support her poetic endeavors due to their economic situation, Amy decides to get a job to start supporting herself. She follows a "Help Wanted" sign into a store, but she soon knocks over a display of sex toys in a panic when she realizes it's a sex store.

She reluctantly begins working at the sex shop where she meets her charming co-worker Alex (Evan Peters), who is in a remarkably similar situation. The two become friends, and Amy also catches the attention of Rubia (Armando Riesco), a flamboyant cross-dresser who takes her under his wing. When Amy discovers that poet Rat Billings (John Cusack) is doing a book signing in the nearby bookstore, she rushes to meet him, knocking down several people in line. Amy becomes almost manic as she tries to get the disgruntled poet's attention, dying to become his pupil. Billings eventually agrees, reluctantly allowing the starry-eyed young poet to clean his home and listen to his ranting. The working relationship between the middle-aged grump and unrealistic poetry major leads to some constructive criticism for Amy and a new perspective for Billings. In the meantime, Amy begins to have feelings for Alex as they work together.

"Adult World" is a comedic take on the real problems in American society, making it both enlightening and enjoyable. Amy's character is the typical starving artist who, like many starving artists in contemporary culture, is unable to achieve much even with a college degree. She then must get a degrading job doing something completely opposite from her dream. However, Amy still holds on to hope, and these undying aspirations serve as bits of inspiration for the audience. "Adult World" takes a hard look at reality without becoming depressing or dull, and college students would do well to learn a lesson from Amy's experiences.

The plot has its high points, but the film is largely character driven. A cast of unique characters, from the sullen Rat Billings to the flamboyant Rubia, makes for an endless series of entertaining interactions. Most characters feature interesting back stories, drawing viewers into their world. These characters also lead to plenty of humorous situations and witty jokes.

Although "Adult World" is undoubtedly entertaining, it also has a few downfalls. For instance, Amy's character is not as thoroughly developed as some of the other characters, and her clumsiness and sometimes crazy behaviors make her less than believable. Additionally, the relationship between Billings and Amy is underdeveloped despite its promise for mutual character transformation. Although these details are minuscule, they detract from the overall experience. 

The acting brings "Adult World" together in an entertaining way. The cast does an amazing job immersing themselves into their respective roles, bringing colorful emotion into every scene. As always, Emma Roberts creates a fun, likable character who audiences want to get to know. John Cusack proves himself to be a versatile actor as he convincingly portrays the disillusioned poet Rat Billings. Armando Riesco and Evan Peters also put on great performances with plenty of humor and heartfelt emotion.

"Adult World" is a unique comedy that joins a cast of colorful characters in a hilarious adventure. The movie may have its cheesy moments, but it also includes some powerful scenes that generate introspection and stick with viewers long after the movie's run time. Although this film may never be widely recognized as a generational classic, its themes and characters certainly make it a film worth remembering.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5