Wednesday, October 9, 2013
That the terribly titled "A.C.O.D." (which stands for adult children of divorce) merits even the mildest recommendation is tribute to the comic genius of Catherine O'Hara and especially Richard Jenkins.
They play Melissa and Hugh, the long-divorced parents of Carter (Adam Scott), a successful restaurateur with a longtime girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who still hate each other with white-hot intensity 20 years later. When Carter's brother Trey (Clark Duke) announces he's getting married ("You've known her, what, three or four months?" "Wow, yeah, it HAS been four months"), Carter attempts to broker - well, not peace - civility so that the wedding won't turn into a total disaster.
Melissa and Hugh, both of whom are happily remarried - in Hugh's case, for the umpteenth time, to the much younger Sondra (a lamentably underused Amy Poehler) - can't be in the same zip code, let alone attend the same function. So when Carter accidentally-on-purpose invites each of them to dinner with him, then leaves them on their own, the stage is set for O'Hara and Jenkins to unleash their gifts. Everyone loves O'Hara, but we haven't seen enough of Jenkins' comic side, which is masterful. I still tear up thinking about his nomination-worthy performance as the beleaguered editor of the San Juan Sun in "The Rum Diary"; his reaction to Johnny Depp's minibar bill was itself worth the price of admission. Here, he had me in hysterics even before launching into his attack, just by the way he leans into the table, as if to maximize the potential energy of what's to come.
The movie itself isn't anything special, but it's worth seeing for Jenkins and O'Hara, and for Jane Lynch, as a psychologist who profiled Carter as a child in her best-selling book on divorce and begins seeing him again. She mines his life for material for a sequel, and sets about running it for him; she seems to violate every principle of professional ethics, but as she reminds him, she's not his therapist. Lynch was very effective this summer in "Afternoon Delight," and I like the way she powers past the blandly serviceable Scott here. She's gonna do what she wants, and get what she wants, and it makes her (and us) laugh.