• R, 1 hr. 33 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Scott Coffey
    In Theaters:
    Feb 14, 2014 Limited
    On DVD:
    Jun 9, 2014
  • IFC Films


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Adult World Reviews

Page 1 of 4
vieras e

Super Reviewer

June 7, 2014
The film felt somewhat out-dated, like it was meant to come out in the mid to late 90's. Had it been set in the 90's, at least, it would not have been so peculiar. Now it's a bit odd. Still, I liked it, mostly. There were some witty lines here and there, and the soundtrack's pretty good. However, it's John Cusack's character that really saves the film. I enjoyed his retorts to the main character Amy. Wow, was she obnoxious.

Super Reviewer

March 26, 2014
People often celebrate independent films as an oasis of creativity in comparison to the cookie-cutter blockbusters that populate Hollywood. However, indie film can have just as many formulaic, half-baked, cookie-cutter films that waste your time. Case in point, the indie comedy Adult World, a movie that feels out of time and lost.

Amy (Emma Roberts) is a recent college graduate who has big dreams of being a poet. Her idol, Rat Billings (John Cusack), even lives in town, giving her ample stalking opportunities. But Amy only seems to get rejection slip after rejection slip in the mail. Her parents cannot afford to bankroll her lifestyle, and so Amy sets off on her own, shacking in with a transvestite, and gaining a job at Adult World, a small mom-and-pop porn store. Amy holds onto hope that she can become a great poet with Rat's mentoring.

The movie feels overly quaint, like its premise, and much of the character interplay, came from a script from 1996 that was lost until now. The entire enterprise feels painfully dated in scope, humor, and its sense of peculiarity. I don't even know why the filmmakers decided to set the movie in modern times. The excuses they devise for why a mom-and-pop porn store exists in the world of 4G wi-fi Internet never come close to working. Yes, we still have the traditional brick-and-mortar porn stores to this day, but those have a wealth of selection. This is like a tiny store with a few walls of movie titles, movies that people rent and return. Remember those, video rental stores? Again, dated. The very existence of the porn store disrupts the credibility of the film; not to suggest it would be perfect without this one plot element. There's such a dated sense of titillation having a desperate woman land a job at a porn store. Oh no, she's out of her element! The problem with the porn store is that they never do anything with it. There are perhaps four jokes directly related to the fact that it is an adult novelty store, but beyond that it would have just sold toasters (note to self: look into potential market for adult novelty toasters). At no point does it prod our heroine along her journey or really have any larger impact besides the place where she meets her eventual love interest. The mom and pop that own the store are never seen again after their introduction, meaning the film even abandons one of the easier comedic scenarios of the elderly, folksy pornographer.

The entire storyline of a would-be poet slumming it at a porn store, learning some hard lessons, and finally finding her footing, well the whole thing just feels so much like a byproduct of the 1990s filmmaking, when the broader commercial impact of indie film was being explored. The middle-class suburban girl being pushed out of her comfort zone by a band of quirky misfits in a fringe setting, well it just feels so dated. Even so, that doesn't mean that this kind of story setup will flounder. Under the right care, even dated material can succeed, but Adult World coasts on the supposed outrageousness of its premise and characters. The trouble is that these people are more of less indie film cartoon characters with no real depth to them. Amy is mostly a brat but we never seem to go beyond the surface of her oversized ego and sense of certainty in her talent. Her relationship with the self-loathing Rat is meant to open herself up the harsh realities of the world, the rude awakening of every post-grad. Except he's really just a jerk that treats her like garbage and eventually humiliates her. At no point do you get the impression that either character is really having much of an impact upon the other, beside general annoyance or frustration. Then there's the character of Rubia, a transvestite Amy meets on the bus and within ONE DAY Amy asks if she can move in with this total stranger. Again, the idea of the kindly transvestite who becomes the heroine's roommate, doesn't that feel so dated too, so desperate to be edgy? Rubia is also ill defined and one-note. I'm surprised the filmmakers had the restraint to not give Rubia a tragic back-story.

With all that said, the movie is never as funny or as interesting or as edgy as it seems to believe it is. I may have laughed once or twice for the entire movie. I certainly wasn't attached to the characters by any means. There's a segment where Amy and Rubia discover Rat driving through town, so they hop on a bike and pedal after him. It's played out like it's supposed to be this stroke of comedy, complete with backbiting comments from Rubia, but it's never funny and it just continues to play out, never altering to possibly become funny. Here's something that is funny: after Amy's parents tell her they cannot afford to pay for her poetry submissions, she runs away from home. The funny part isn't her decision-making or the act of running away itself. The real funny part is that we don't see or hear from Amy's parents again for over an hour. Did her mother and father not care that their only child has disappeared? Are they secretly relieved? Amy doesn't even refer to her parents, so we're left wondering if there may be a missing person's report floating around somewhere. It's details like this, and the lack of taking advantage of the comic possibilities of the porn store setting, that showcase just how terribly Adult World goes about developing its shoddy story.

Then there's the overall sludgy look of the film itself. Filmed on location in Syracuse, New York during a wintry period, it's as if director Scott Coffey (Ellie Parker) wanted to communicate the misery of his characters with a visual style that made you feel their pain. This is one of the crummier looking wide releases I've ever seen. The cinematography is just dreary but without any strong sense of visual composition. I know this was a low-budget effort but Coffey and his team do such little work to hide the limitations; the set dressing is pathetically bare when it comes to locations, like the porn store. Every shot, every scene just reminds you further that Adult World just didn't have the money, or the right people for the money. Coffey's other sin is his mishandling of his actors. Roberts (We're the Millers) and Cusack (Lee Daniels' The Butler) are two very capable actors, but they seem abandoned here. Cusack is just a misanthropic who treats every moment with annoyance, and it gets tiresome. Roberts is all over the place, needing a gentle tug to help bring her histrionic character back to a suitable reality.

I cannot think of any reason a person should take useful time out of their day to watch Adult World. The film isn't funny. The characters are bothersome and lacking depth. The essential premise, the hook of the movie, is incidental and inconsequential. There is just a general malaise about the film, a lack of development that saps the characters and the story. Oh sure, things occasionally happen, or characters will magically reveal insights, but it's always in the most hasty, inorganic fashion. Even the title is so on-the-nose to be annoying absent further examination. By the end of the movie, I think we're left with Amy realizing that she might not be as talented as she thought, but hey, at least she has an arty boyfriend now. If this is a late blooming coming-of-age tale (a la Frances Ha) is misses all the necessary elements that push our heroine to grow. Instead, we're saddled with a crummy looking movie with poorly developed characters, a nascent sense of comedy, and a plot that feels quaintly dated at every turn. If this is what growing up looks like, take it from me and skip Adult World.

Nate's Grade: C-

Super Reviewer

March 4, 2014
When life gets hard, rise to the occasion.

Good FIlm! Adult World is a must-see comedy. Heartwarming and beautifully tender, the only flaw the film suffers is being a smidge too long. It's a movie well worth the watch, if you only keep an open mind to it going in. And I really liked it for what it was, a sweet movie about a girl trying to follow her dreams.

Amy, a naive college graduate who believes she's destined to be a great poet, begrudgingly accepts a job at a sex shop while she pursues a mentorship with reclusive writer Rat Billings.

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2014
three stars
Dann M

Super Reviewer

August 16, 2014
The indie comedy Adult World is a labored coming-of-age film that's a little pretentious at times. The story follows a poetry graduate named Amy who's unable to find work and resorts to taking a clerk job at an adult book store, but she finds renewed hope when her most admired poet allows her to be his personal assistant. Emma Roberts and John Cusack lead the cast and give solid performances. But the storytelling isn't very organic; as a lot of the story elements are only used to get from point A to point B. Moreover, the writing is extremely heavy handed in its themes. Adult World isn't very original and is rather lazy in its execution.
June 16, 2014
This movie covers a lot of ground. It is very real, both funny and tragic at the same time. The cast was amazing in this movie and there was a nice schmaltzy happy ending for Amy 'the poet'.
August 31, 2014
I don't think anyone involved in this movie really knew what they were doing
Dann M

Super Reviewer

August 16, 2014
The indie comedy Adult World is a labored coming-of-age film that's a little pretentious at times. The story follows a poetry graduate named Amy who's unable to find work and resorts to taking a clerk job at an adult book store, but she finds renewed hope when her most admired poet allows her to be his personal assistant. Emma Roberts and John Cusack lead the cast and give solid performances. But the storytelling isn't very organic; as a lot of the story elements are only used to get from point A to point B. Moreover, the writing is extremely heavy handed in its themes. Adult World isn't very original and is rather lazy in its execution.
August 3, 2014
I thought it was kind of good. Shows how hard it is to break into the business.
August 1, 2014
This movie has it's moments but unfortunately they are derailed by the horrible acting of Emma Roberts. There were moments where I thought she'd say OMG and start posting to Facebook and Twitter about being published #MadeIt #Published #YouGoGirl. Evan Peters and John Cusack were great. It's too bad Roberts wasn't better, this could have been a fun movie.
April 20, 2014
Emma Roberts is pretty good in this film. The story is slow and not sure if they knew where they were headed or not, but somehow got to the end, though a bit convoluted way to get there.
July 4, 2014
A lovely and funny coming-of -age movie.
July 2, 2014
Adult World is a fantastic and engaging film. The narrative follows young, aspiring poet Amy as she tries to navigate the "Adult World". Naive and self confident as can be Amy struggles to adjust to the harsh realism reality provides, and as she begins her job in Adult World, a porn and sex toy shop, she also begins to expand her horizons. She learns valuable lessons from the friends she makes, as well as from her hero. As the story progresses Amy learns that she may have to sacrifice some of her ambition and take opportunities that she never thought she would.
Adult world may not be perfect, but it provides an entertaining perspective on life after college, and entering the real world. The film flows quickly with wit and charm, while addressing things realistically. Emma Roberts comes off as adorable and innocent in this film, which is necessary as Amy might have come off as obnoxious if played by someone less charming.
February 15, 2014
Emma Roberts is so much better than this. Cusack and Peters are quite solid, but this film's attempt at comedy is almost completely embarrassing.
February 13, 2014
The story is just ok enough to work but the main character is so annoying and unlikable to enjoy her journey. But Evan Peters and Cloris Leachman in supporting roles always shine in whatever they do so there is at least a few things worth your time
June 24, 2014
This a difficult movie to review. On one hand, I can't help but think about how completely decent this might have been if it hadn't used Emma Roberts as the lead. Which isn't saying she's bad, she's just not good in this. She plays twenty-two like a twelve year old: too angsty, too whiny and severely misguided. On the flipside, the supporting roles were superb, headlined by Cusack and topped off with a Cloris Leachman porn store cameo. "Adult World" has it moments and pushes across it's point well enough, without fading into the great cliche' fade out. It's easier to talk about the film's potential than it's results. Rated 2.5 out of 5. Reviewed 6/23/14.
June 15, 2014
Who knows may be worth just giving it a shot.
April 19, 2014
It's genuinely funny, smart, painful
It's always pleasurable watching Emma
April 19, 2014
It is genuinely funny,smart,Painful
it's always pleasurable watching Emma
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