Adam Scott stars as a successful restaurateur, dating the absolutely stunning yoga instructor Mary Elizabeth Winstead. He comes from a bitterly divorced couple played by Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara. They were divorced when he was young, and they still hate the fuck out of each other. So when younger brother Clark Duke is about to get married (to a real woman? Really? Did he chloroform her first?), it’s up to Scott to try and get his parents to put their venomous hatred aside for the sake of the impending nuptials. And that’s when things take a turn for…um, well something at least. He visits childhood therapist Jane Lynch for her insights into how to get the bickering oldies to simmer down temporarily. It’s here that he finds out that Lynch is not really a shrink exactly, but that Scott was placed by his parents into a study on the effects of divorce on children conducted by researcher Lynch, who then wrote a best-selling book about it that Scott somehow never found out about. Oh, and having managed to force mum and dad into being in the same room together for dinner one night has too much of an effect: Despite having both moved on to other people (Jenkins with bitchy Amy Poehler who is probably a bitch because she’s no longer young enough to be a trophy wife, and O’Hara moving on with nice guy Ken Howard) and hating the fuck out of each other…they amazingly start having an affair! Families are messed up. But even Scott finds himself tempted when seeking out other subjects in Lynch’s book, i.e. sexy Jessica Alba (whose skanky tattoos are a dopey short-hand for emotional scars or something).
Coming off like an idea for a Woody Allen film that never quite got to being fleshed out into a full screenplay, writer-director Stu Zicherman, in his directorial debut nonetheless ventured on with this 2013 film anyway. Co-written by Ben Karlin (the sometimes hilarious TV show “Modern Family”), it’s an uneven film with infrequent laughs, and frankly no overall point that I could ascertain. I really think it needed a re-write or two.
I’m also not sure that producer/star Adam Scott is leading man material, at least not on evidence here. An able supporting player particularly in jerk roles (“Step Brothers”, for instance), he’s a bit forgettable really, and so is his character (the straight man amidst a bunch of screw-ups) and the film itself. Complete waste of Jessica Alba, whose character is pretty much dumped and forgotten about by the end (though, let’s face it, Alba hasn’t shown any talent or personality since “Dark Angel” began its unfortunate and inferior second season). But there are elements here that I liked, particularly the performances of Catherine O’Hara and Richard Jenkins (who make “The War of the Roses” look like a water balloon fight), the latter of whom runs away with the film. His embittered divorcee gets some great lines regarding O’Hara like ‘If I ever see that woman…I’m gonna kick her in the balls!’. He’s very, very bitter, and very, very funny. I don’t know if Catherine O’Hara has ever worked with Woody Allen, but she absolutely should. She’s in perfect form here in a character that seems written for her.
Jane Lynch, the only thing about “Glee” that doesn’t make me want to punch a wall, is in her element here too in the role that most resembles a Woody Allen conceit (It’d be at home in his excellent and quite underrated “Deconstructing Harry”, for instance). As in “Role Models”, she’s completely demented here- Is she even a doctor/shrink? Does she even know if she is or not? In a smaller role, although she doesn’t get a whole lot to do, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is simply one of the world’s most beautiful women and has a lovely screen presence here. I also think Ken Howard gave a nice performance as poor ‘ol Gary. So there’s some nice stuff going on here, it’s just not wholly satisfying, and we also have to suffer through creepy Clark Duke (the creepy nerd from TV’s “Greek”) playing creepy Clark Duke again. Will the police just arrest this creepy perve already? Or at least find a different screen persona, dude.
Re-title this film “Divorced Parents of Adult Children”, focus on Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara, and you’ve got yourself a good film. As is, the film focuses on the least interesting character and actor (not named Clark Duke), and only works in fits and starts. It’s watchable, but no more than that, though it probably meant a lot to Zicherman, who based it somewhat on his own experiences as an Adult Child of Divorce. This Adult Child of Divorce wasn’t especially impressed, though.