Adult Beginners Blu-ray Review
Flashing the Duplass brothers up on your opening credits is like immediately alerting the audience to indie gold. At least that what comes up in my mind because no matter what angle in which they’re attacking a movie project, directors, writers, or producers, I believe I’m about to witness something that I will highly enjoy. Sadly ADULT BEGINNERS may be the first disappointment in that long string of movies.
Jake (Kroll) is a failed Mark Zuckerberg. Within just a couple of moments, we see him as the life of the party, ready to launch his hip new app, to getting verbal threats in his voicemail and traveling to his sister’s place because he no longer has a penny to his name. It’s a quick and easy piece of exposition, but it doesn’t really establish what kind of character Jake is. I only say that because the rest of the movie seems to be under the guise that we already know what kind of person he is, without explicitly telling us.
Jake’s relationship with his sister, Justine (Byrne), seems a bit strained, but they have plenty of fond memories. Jake also seems to get along well enough with his brother-in-law, Danny (Cannavale), whom he honestly doesn’t seem to know much about. I only mention this because apparently Jake’s trustworthy enough for Justine and Danny to trust Jake with babysitting duties of the couple’s young son.
While it can be assumed that there has been an incident that has damaged Jake and Justine’s bond, it apparently wasn’t powerful enough to stop Justine from allowing Jake to be in charge of her only child’s well-being. So around 10 to 15 minutes in the movie, we’re still under this guise that we’re supposed to know who Jake is without actually knowing who he is. Without establishing all that, it dampens the emotional investment that we put into the characters.
Also as the story progresses, there are some terribly dull tropes that pop-up, but what prevents them from being a real eye roller, is the soul of ADULT BEGINNERS. Despite its shortcomings, it does have a lot of heart. While I’ve spent years watching Nick Kroll play a foul-mouthed, bitter, and hateful lawyer on THE LEAGUE, he manages to turn in a really good performance. Jake is looking to right the wrongs in his life and get past the failure of a company he started at the beginning of the movie. He’s believable enough for me to appreciate his poorly written transformation.
As for everyone else, I always like Rose Byrne in whatever movie she plays and I can’t help but feel like Bobby Cannavale’s role is just a bumbling cliché. There are a couple of cameos that pop up that only seem logical if you know the group of actors and actresses that Kroll has surrounded himself with in real life. As for their purpose or necessity in the story, they’re far from a necessity.
ADULT BEGINNERS could be mistaken for a comedy with the cast at hand, but I rarely laughed and I’m not sure I could muster a false chuckle much like a crowd gives an opening music band at a concert, a pity clap. While ADULT BEGINNERS has a lot of things wrong with, it has its heart in the wrong place and it’s begging to be liked. So maybe this is my way of saying, I’m giving it a pity recommendation. But barely.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1:85:1) The picture quality is superb on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound mixing is well done.
The Making of ADULT BEGINNERS (9:53): This is an interview style behind the scenes look. It talks with the director as well as some of the actors about the creative process behind the story.