Tribeca Breakdown: Adult World



Amy (Emma Roberts) is a Syracuse graduate who majored in the writing of poetry, which basically means she has no job and her parents are still supplying her with the cash that she uses as a fee to get into writing contests and the like in order to get discovered. When they decide to cut her off, the only place that will take her is an Adult video store run by an elderly couple (Cloris Leachman, Reed Birney: both in the film for just one scene sadly) and managed by Alex (Evan Peters, “American Horror Story”). Still intent on being a great writer one day, she seeks out the help of a favorite author she’s obsessed with, Rat Billings (John Cusack), and asks for his assistance.  


What kind of art festival would it be without at least one film about the challenges of being an artist? “Adult World”, written by Andy Cochran and directed by Scott Coffey, does many things well, looking at that special time in a young writer’s life when all they want to do is get out of this time and into a more prosperous one. The lack of life experiences driven by the lack of cash driven by a hell of a time trying to find an outlet that will let you broadcast your thoughts to the world is the vicious cycle for which the film focuses on. It’s one that should hit a chord for anyone who has ever really spent time sitting down at a computer and tried to write something, only to have paranoia seep in.

And there is also that little question of whether you’re even good enough to be a writer (always a fun thing to ponder) and here this is both well-observed, keenly funny, and driven by the second-coming of a Roberts, this time Emma. Julia’s niece has been in a few other movies but this one should make her a star. She’s just as adorable, funny, and instantly winning (a foolish scene where she tries to seduce Cusack is hilarious) but she gets this character so well, from her crazy perseverance and singular drive to the maladaptiveness in most other aspects of her life, she completely sells a character who is more concerned with writing and fame than the life experiences that make up a great writer.

John Cusack is also very good here as Amy’s reluctant mentor, a bit of a jerk and tough- love teacher (“continue to fail” he says) but there is bizarre logic to the things he says and does. And Armando Riesco is another fantastic find here as Rubia, putting in a funny, touching performance as Amy’s “life” mentor.  “Adult World” overstays its welcome a bit too long and the sex store stuff seems is a weak attempt at easy laughs but as far as stories about following a dream go, this one is both funny and perceptive.