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ADULT WORLD TFF ’13 Movie Review

While I saw Adult World weeks ago at Tribeca Film Festival, I’ve struggled with this review. As my favorite from the fest, I wanted to do it justice and fully express just what made it so enjoyable and a highlight out of the many films I saw in the days I was at TFF.

As a part of Generation Y aka “Millenials”, I always seek out movies aimed at my generation to see their take. We’ve all heard the negative stereotype that we’re entitled, lazy, priviledged, etc, but balancing that image with reality has proven very hard for films trying to tackle the subject. Often times, I come out hating the main character, or finding the problems they face so trivial that I don’t get invested in the film.

The latest addition to this little subgenre is Adult World starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack. Roberts plays a recent Syracuse graduate pursuing a career in writing, poetry to be specific. She’s done everything right up until this point – put her nose the grindstone, honed her craft, and didn’t get in to trouble or even date boys since they’d just detract from her writing. However, all of this hasn’t lead to her being published. And her parents can’t support her application/reading fees anymore.

Adult World

To make ends meet, she starts working in a sex toy/porn shop filled with interesting characters like the quiet, shy young manager, the lovely (and kind of dirty) old couple who own the shop, and the cross dresser who she befriends there. Meanwhile, she runs in to her poetry idol, Rat Jennings (John Cusack) and basically forces him to become her mentor.

Emma Roberts is a joy in this film, capturing the enthusiasm, naivete, and even melodramatics perfectly. While she is a bit entitled and deluded, it comes off as endearing as she learns to navigate through the adult world that she’s now a part of.

Adult World

John Cusack’s Rat is surly and jaded, and a perfect counterpoint to Roberts’ optimism. Their dynamic is hilarious and while it could have been played for the same joke throughout, the writing and their energy kept every encounter fresh.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this could be the film that captures my generation. We’re enthusiastic and eager to succeed, have worked our whole lives as we’ve been told to do, and things just aren’t working out as we were lead to believe. I see a lot of myself and my colleagues’ in Amy and her plight. Adult World manages to show this balance without condescending, without ridiculing, and that is exceedingly difficult to pull off. It’s a funny, real, and honest portrayal of the post-grad life filled with heart.

Adult World does not have an official release date scheduled yet. 

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The Author

Kristal Bailey

Kristal Bailey

With a soft spot for movies that fall into the “So Bad They’re Good” category, Kristal Bailey regularly watches B-movies, 80s comedies, and sci-fi from the 50s and 60s. She also refuses to grow up if that means she has to hide her love for Disney and Pixar films.

In her free time, she enjoys reading graphic novels or books that are soon to be turned into movies, watching hours and hours of television, and spending way too much time on Twitter.