Divorce is no laughing matter. Just ask Meryl Streep’s Oscar from Kramer Vs. Kramer. Yes, it is a very serious thing that rips apart families, destroys children, and is disintegrating the moral fabric of this country. Well, that’s what movies always lead us to believe. The funniest thing about divorce comedy A.C.O.D. is that it shows that divorce has been around long enough that we can now laugh about it. And watching this movie, you will laugh plenty.
The title stands for “adult children of divore” and the premise of the movie shows exactly why its time has come. Adam Scott stars as a man whose parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) had a vicious divorce when he was 9 years-old. Now that his brother (Clark Duke) is getting married he has to forge a truce between the two. He also was the subject of a book about children who were screwed up by divorce and now the pyschologist who wrote the book (Jane Lynch) is interviewing him for the follow up.
Yes, Scott’s character Carter is part of a generation where divorce is just a part of the world. In classrooms growing up half of the students were from “broken homes,” and now that generation has come of age and society has changed. We’re finally at a point where we can joke about divorce.
Many of the jokes in director Stu Zicherman‘s debut feature land quite well. But when you’re dealing with comedy vets like O’Hara, Lynch, and Amy Poehler, who plays Carter’s bitchy step mother, of course the hilarity is going to be off the charts. What makes the movie great is that the subject matter is fresh, dealing with the interactions, jealousies, and grievances of a sprawling family, but the structure is familiar. A.C.O.D.is set up like your standard rom-com (for Christ sakes there’s even a small part for Jessica Alba as the hot girl who threatens to rip it all apart) except what Scott is falling in love with and out of love with and in love with again is his family.
This movie has not only a handful of belly laughs but a few twists and turns up its sleeve. The greatest weapon in its arsenal, however, is Scott, who has proven himself to be the American Hugh Grant (a higher compliment, I can not pay) who is goofy and befuddled while also being very earnest and totally dreamy. Just like in last year’s Friends with Kids he proves himself an adept straight man in a cast of crazies, trying to anchor things down even as he sees them falling apart. He doesn’t have the range of many other comic actors, but his product is one we should all buy stock in, because it would make all of us very rich. And then when we’re all rich and want to divorce our husbands (or wives) then at least we’ll be able to laugh at it. A.C.O.D. opens a door for all of that, and I can’t wait to see the brave new world of what divorce comedies will follow.