Starring: Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale
Director: Ross Katz
Running Time: 92 mins
Adult Beginners is an American film about a former hot shot investor who, after losing all of his money and contacts through an embarrassing mistake, moves back home to live with his sister, and takes up the task of looking after her young son.
An indie comedy-drama with good heart, good performances, and moments of good comedy. What’s not to like? Well, in the case of Adult Beginners, while impressing with its generally pleasant atmosphere and likable nature, the lack of strong dramatic intrigue makes for a real obstacle when trying to develop a genuinely engrossing film, with a rather repetitive screenplay ultimately working against the more enjoyable elements at play.
Before we get into that, however, the main thing to talk about with this film is the fact that it is, generally speaking, a rather likable and easy-going comedy-drama. Above all, the performances from the likes of Nick Kroll and Rose Byrne are very good, with convincing on-screen chemistry working well with the film’s sense of humour, as well as allowing you to relate to the story on a more human level.
What’s more is that the movie, despite its lack of real dramatic punch, does have a lot of good heart to it. Centring on a brother returning to his childhood home to live with his sister after his life was turned upside down, it’s a premise that we’ve too often seen used in a negative context, setting up for bickering and clashes between brother and sister that just aren’t pleasant to watch in any way.
However, this film sees brother and sister with a solid family relationship, and a really strong bond that is absolutely wonderful to watch and relate to, brilliantly portrayed by Nick Kroll and Rose Byrne throughout, and as such making the film a rather heartfelt and pleasant one, as we see the strength of family relationships at the most difficult of times.
In that, there’s no ridiculous melodrama or silliness at any point in the story, meaning Adult Beginners manages to keep its feet on the floor and tell an engaging story in a way that a large majority of indie movies fail to do, often looking for something grander to grab your attention, but as such undoing any good on the more down-to-earth side of things.
Despite that, I do feel that there is a part of the film that could have done with some more effective dramatic writing. There are moments of drama, but they’re generally very predictable, and are ultimately resolved a little too easily, meaning that Adult Beginners isn’t the world’s most enthralling watch, even if it is rather enjoyable.
Overall, I did like Adult Beginners, thanks to its positive and heartfelt atmosphere that’s complemented well by two great central performances, and moments of good humour throughout that work well to make a generally down-to-earth story engaging throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 7.0.