The comedic stylings of Mr. Nick Kroll are an acquired taste. He can be dry, sarcastic, zany, or completely off the wall. He’s a stand-up who has graced Comedy Central with his presence for many a year now. You can either love him, hate him, or fall somewhere in between. His latest venture was on the big screen in Adult Beginners, a charming little dramedy with a pretty strong supporting cast. Since this film is a dramedy, it means that Kroll can flex a muscle he normally doesn’t get a chance to flex, that of a troubled and complex serious actor. Sure, don’t get me wrong, you still have that zany Kroll flavor, it’s just now accompanied by angst and self-loathing. All in all, this is a film one might want to check out.
Meet Jake (Kroll), a tech savvy businessman whose startup company quickly crashes and burns. With his career in the toilet and his life is shambles, Jake decides to stay with his estranged sister Justine (Rose Byrne), her husband Danny (Bobby Cannavale), and their 3-year-old son. Jake is new to the whole suburban family lifestyle, so things are a little bumpy at first. This bumpiness soon turns into personal redemption and a path that forces Jake to answer life’s tough questions and great mysteries. Along the way, humor ensues with the occasional awkward moments that make Kroll such a unique comic.
Adult Beginners is a dramedy through and through. I use this term because that is exactly what this film this. It knows what it is and it doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s primary purpose is to mirror real life, for you see “life” is a dramedy in all its facets. It can be funny and it can be dreadful. In this respect, you can say Kroll is an imitator of of some of the most self-aware comedic actors. Sure, he isn’t Woody Allen but he does his very best to mimic that master “dramedian”. Kroll tries too hard and sure, some of his work is pretty good but this film just feels forced and all too familiar.
Bobby Cannavale gives a solid performance as usual and Rose Bryne is stiff as always. Small roles from Joel McHale and Bobby Moynihan elevate the film a bit but the main attraction still stands, Kroll. It’s frustrating that this film wasn’t better. It had a lot going for it and I think the script (penned by Jeff Cox, Liz Flahive, and Kroll) suffered from trying to be that typical You. Me, and Dupree clone. Audiences have seen this formula all too often (and in many cases, better). The cast in Adult Beginners is stellar but the screenplay reeks of familiarity.
This is a movie that seems to have been made for those searching for a late night Netflix option. It’s cute and it’s in some cases, funny, and Kroll might be your cup of tea but it’s a bland option. It’s a film that caters to those looking for a quick pick me up and not much else. Die hard fans of Kroll will want to sample this one and fans of predictable dramedies will get a kick out of it as well but other than that, there’s not much here.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
There is a making-of featurette.