‘A.C.O.D’ is quirky divorce comedy

By DANA BARBUTO - More Content Now

Richard Jenkins (from left), Adam Scott and Clark Duke star in the film “A.C.O.D.,” which stands for Adult Children of Divorce. (More Content Now photo)

Divorce is typically more nasty than funny, but that doesn’t stop first-time director Stu Zicherman from crafting a comedy about the lingering effects of his parents’ divorce on a seemingly well-adjusted grown man in “A.C.O.D.” – Adult Children of Divorce.

Pulling double duty, Zicherman, a child of divorce himself, co-wrote the film with Needham’s Ben Karlin (“The Daily Show”), and the duo benefit from a richly entertaining ensemble headed by Adam Scott.

He’s joined by a murderer’s row of comedic actors, including Jane Lynch (“Glee”), Amy Poehler  (Scott’s co-star on “Parks and Recreation”), Clark Duke (“Hot Tub Time Machine”), Catherine O’Hara (“Home Alone”) and Richard Jenkins, an Oscar-nominee for “The Visitor.”

After a title card informs that one in two marriages will fail, the film flashes back to the ninth birthday of Scott’s Carter. While he’s blowing out candles, his parents (Jenkins and O’Hara) are at each other’s throats, launching colorful insult after insult. A close-up of the boy’s dejected face is all Zicherman needs to put the ball in play. Fast forward 20 years, and his parents can’t stand to be in the same room, let alone set their differences aside to plan their youngest son’s (Duke) wedding.

Enter Carter, who has been the family peacemaker, fixer and go-between since childhood, learning to effectively juggle both parents as a survival skill.  In fact, Mom and Dad’s split didn’t hinder him from becoming a successful restaurateur or scoring an amazing girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, with not much to do.) Carter is stable and unaffected – just ask him.

As the wedding planning heats up, Carter begins to unravel (naturally), and he seeks refuge on the couch of his former childhood therapist Dr. Judith (Lynch). Only he discovers she’s not really a shrink, but a researcher who used Carter as a subject in her best-selling book – in its 14th printing – about children of divorce.   

Dysfunctional family cliches ensue, culminating in Carter’s predictable third-act meltdown. The likability of Scott and his castmates keep the flimsy story intact, despite Zicherman and Karlin’s best efforts to demoralize them with underwritten roles. 

That includes Jessica Alba’s Michelle, another of the subjects in Dr. Judith’s books, and Carter’s step-parents played by Ken Howard, all but forgotten in the scrum, and Poehler, who sees a terrific opportunity to play against type squandered by the filmmakers. Like the rest of the cast, she should sue for abandonment.  

“A.C.O.D.” has its funny moments, but with a cast of this caliber, you expect more hilarity than you get.

• “A.C.O.D.” is rated R for language and brief sexual content. The cast includes Adam Scott, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler and Richard Jenkins. Grade: B-   

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