⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for language and brief sexual content.
“A.C.O.D.” is short for adult children of divorce, which is short for a generation of under-nurtured, commitment-phobic emotional wrecks.
Adam Scott plays a tightly coiled restaurant owner delegated to broker a truce between his parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) before his younger brother’s wedding. Soon their rancorous behavior has him going out of his gourd. Regressing to his old childhood insecurities, he seeks out his onetime therapist (Jane Lynch), who stuns him with the news that she wrote a thinly disguised pop psychology bestseller about his youthful woes. Sensing the potential for a sequel in the stress-related meltdown of Scott’s own romance with the fetching Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lynch latches on to him once again, notebook in hand.
Writer-director Stuart Zicherman mines a vein of crass humor but never quite strikes the bonanza. Jenkins and O’Hara are fearlessly insensitive as the long-divorced parents. There’s a shortage of good gags and of sympathy for Amy Poehler as Jenkins’ uber-wealthy new wife, though Ken Howard fares better as O’Hara’s easygoing second husband. The tone is irresolute, as if Zicherman, a self-proclaimed A.C.O.D., hadn’t fully resolved his feelings before spinning them into this lumpy comedic drama.
⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving abortion, and brief strong language.
Theater: St. Anthony Main
In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, a 67-year-old Kansas abortion provider, was shot to death in his church. He was one of only five known U.S. doctors trained to perform third-term abortions. This moving documentary by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson observes the four remaining practitioners, and their opponents, in the wake of the killing.
The doctors see their service as a legal right and a medical duty to be performed only after sober consideration of all the patient’s options. Protesters outside their clinics see it as an abomination. The women seeking to terminate their pregnancies see it as a complex ethical issue with suffering on either side of the equation.
The filmmakers’ sympathies lie with the embattled doctors, who emerge as compassionate, thoughtful professionals seeking to preserve their patients’ health and well-being. The film doesn’t impose a political agenda, but calmly observes, acknowledging the humanity of parties on both sides. Any viewer with an interest in this issue, whether pro-life, pro-choice or agnostic, ought to see this heart-piercing report from the front lines.C.C.
⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for sexual material, substance abuse, some language and thematic elements.
Theater: Arbor Lakes.
Oscar winner Diablo Cody is an intermittently wonderful screenwriter but the fully realized characters and silver-needle wit of “Juno” and “Young Adult” are nowhere to be found in her debut as writer/director.
This ineffective comedy stars Julianne Hough as a pious, sheltered girl who renounces God following a plane accident that left her severely scarred. Eager to sample life beyond her prayer circle, she heads to Las Vegas for a crash course in debauchery. To her chagrin, the sarcastic hipsters she recruits as her tour guides (bartender Russell Brand and lounge singer Octavia Spencer) make it their mission to protect their new friend from temptation. As Hough’s boogie night evaporates without the life-altering degradations she expected, there really is nowhere for the story to go except back home again, chastened and grateful for her community’s blinkered wholesomeness.
There are moments, of course. Spencer brings a winningly wry attitude to a character who’d rather sing Radiohead than the expected Motown hits. Brand supplies faint traces of his usual bad-boy misbehavior. But there’s an airless, overdetermined quality to the proceedings. The wild-card human factor that enlivens Cody’s better efforts is sadly lacking. The film is monochromatic in mood and look, with not much feel for camera placement, movement or editing. Even Vegas, with neon-encrusted location shots on every corner, looks drab.
Hough, a “Dancing With the Stars” standout with limited acting skills, makes her dialogue scenes feel as stilted as if she was reading cue cards aloud. But even Emma Stone couldn’t do much with this character, who packs her own table settings because she thinks hotel dishes could harbor VD. Here’s hoping Cody returns soon to the quality work she’s capable of.C.C.