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A.C.O.D. Blu-ray Review

A.C.O.D. (2013) movie poster A.C.O.D.

Theatrical Release: October 4, 2013 / Running Time: 88 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Stuart Zicherman / Writers: Ben Karlin, Stuart Zicherman

Cast: Adam Scott (Carter Spencer), Richard Jenkins (Hugh Spencer), Catherine O'Hara (Melissa Louise Hall), Amy Poehler (Sondra), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Lauren), Clark Duke (Trey Spencer), Ken Howard (Gary Hall), Valerie Tian (Kieko Kobayashi), Sarah Burns (Margo), Jessica Alba (Michelle), Jane Lynch (Dr. Lorraine Judith), Jamie Renell (Tyler), Valerie Payton (Etta), John Gavin Alexander Plunkett (Evan), Isabella Zentkovic (Emily), Vickie Eng (Ellen Kobayashi), Vince Canlas (Gene Kobayashi), Mark Oliver (Mr. Stringer), Todd Denson (Maitre'd), Stephen Warner (Usher), Randy Cohlmia (Mr. Striped Jacket), Adam Pally (Mark), Brian Kurlander (David), Sarah Vowell (Lorraine)

Buy A.C.O.D. from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

A.C.O.D. has a rich comedic cast that includes Adam Scott, his "Parks & Recreation" wife Amy Poehler, his Step Brothers stepfather Richard Jenkins, his fellow "Party Down" caterer Jane Lynch, Catherine O'Hara, and Clark Duke. It also has a first-time director in Stuart Zicherman, who makes his foray into comedy
after years of writing and producing short-lived television drama (e.g. "Six Degrees" and "Life Is Wild") and contributing to the Elektra script. The inexperience of Zicherman, who co-wrote the screenplay with "Modern Family" and "The Daily Show" scribe Ben Karlin, may explain why this film received a limited release from novice distributor The Film Arcade. It also may explain why, despite the promising talent assembled, the movie doesn't make you want to help it find a larger audience.

As the poster, cover, and opening titles make clear, A.C.O.D. stands for Adult Children of Divorce. That's what Carter Spencer (Scott) is and, in his mind, a well-adjusted one. The owner of a popular fancy restaurant, he's managed to find peace in the distance between his father Hugh (Jenkins) and his mother Melissa (O'Hara), who haven't spoken in twenty years and have each remarried an age-inappropriate spouse, the too young Sondra (Poehler) for Dad and the too old Gary (Ken Howard) for Mom.

Yoga teacher/girlfriend Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) helps Carter (Adam Scott) get limber. Some sneaky planning by Carter places his father (Richard Jenkins) and mother (Catherine O'Hara) at the same table for the first time in twenty years.

Carter's younger brother Trey (Duke), who lives in Carter's garage, proposes to his girlfriend of four months (Valerie Tian), setting up a reason for the boys' estranged parents to be in the same room for the first time in a long time. Peacekeeper Carter raises the subject to each of his parents and then tricks them into sharing a meal together. Soon, Mom and Dad are sharing more than lunch, as Carter catches them hooking up.

While wrestling with the guilt of responsibility for that discomforting affair, Carter also reconnects with Dr. Lorraine Judith (Lynch), a researcher whom he learns wrote a New York Times bestselling book on children of divorce. Carter is shocked to discover he was among her subjects, his uneasy ninth birthday and other painful experiences immortalized under an alias. Inspired by their reunion, Dr. Judith decides to write a sequel catching up with those broken home offspring in adulthood.

Meanwhile, Carter considers taking his relationship with yoga instructor Lauren (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), his girlfriend of four years, to the next level, uncertain if that's what either of them really wants.

Researcher Dr. Lorraine Judith (Jane Lynch) is excited to reconnect with her old subject and inspired to write a follow-up book on adult children of divorce. The marriage plans of younger brother Trey (Clark Duke) drive the plot of "A.C.O.D."

A.C.O.D. has very few laughs, which despite appearances and the cast's reputation, does not leave this comedy a complete failure or waste of time. This is not a limited release film because of trouble finding a distributor or because it's a bad movie. It's an indie by design,
thus extending new and unusual opportunities to the likes of Scott, Zicherman, and Karlin.

This is a little bit of a mess, but not an altogether disagreeable one. Jessica Alba plays a fellow A.C.O.D. in a two-scene cameo that doesn't go anywhere. It's another face and name for the cover art, nonetheless. Lynch feels like she's in another movie, not because of tonal inconsistencies but just because the narrative fails to add up.

Scott is an appealing actor whose career has flourished in the past five years. Comedies generally assign leading man duties to someone who's either very funny or funny-looking. Scott is neither of those, but you like him in the role of the questionable voice of reason in this chaotic family. Neither Scott nor the industry seems to have completely decided on his calling, but he's versatile enough to alternate between comedy hero and villain roles, somehow able to replace John Cusack in Hot Tub Time Machine 2 but also easily envisioned in a Woody Allen movie and capable of reuniting with Martin Scorsese, who directed him in The Aviator.

A.C.O.D. feels like a cable TV pilot that could likely be rejected in spite of its accomplished on-camera personnel. It's an okay directorial debut but one uneven enough not to expect Zicherman to suddenly land more feature work or attract comparable big name actors. Then again, everyone's got to start somewhere and freshman films don't always indicate the quality of future efforts.

Theatrical releases by The Film Arcade, whose name is nowhere to be found on the film or the case, have come to home video from an assortment of different studios. A.C.O.D. reached stores last week in DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD editions from Paramount Home Entertainment.

A.C.O.D. Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English, French and Spanish
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($29.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Most new films look pretty great on Blu-ray these days, but A.C.O.D. definitely seems to benefit from being handled by Paramount instead of a smaller studio. The disc's sharp, vibrant, spotless 1.78:1 transfer is virtually impossible to find fault with.

The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack won't elicit oohs and aahs from anyone who's watched a Blu-ray before, but it similarly satisfies with the high quality that high definition regularly delivers.

Star Adam Scott and director/co-writer Stuart Zicherman discuss "A.C.O.D." in a post-screening Q & A. The underused Amy Poehler has some foul-mouthed alternative reaction lines in this outtakes clip.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

A.C.O.D. is joined by a quartet of on-disc extras, all of them exclusive to Blu-ray and presented in HD, as is typically the case at Paramount these days.

"Cast & Crew Discuss A.C.O.D." (5:35) collects clips of post-screening Q & A remarks. A suitable stand-in for a making-of featurette, this lets the actors and filmmakers voice their intentions to subvert expectations (with a reverse of the usual romcom protagonist trajectory), allow improvisation, and close with an open ending.

"Amy Poehler Outtakes" (0:39) shows us a few alternate deliveries for one of the actress' few lines.

Jane Lynch poses other possible definitions for "A.C.O.D." Adam Scott and Clark Duke deadpan their way through three of the five included cast A.C.O.D. PSAs.

"What Does A.C.O.D. Stand For?" (0:42) has Jane Lynch come up with other things that the titular phrase could abbreviate.

Finally,
there are five semi-amusing straight-faced PSAs (6:29) about A.C.O.D.: one performed by Lynch, one by Catherine O'Hara and Adam Scott, and the remaining three by Scott and Clark Duke.

The disc opens with streamed trailers, which for me twice meant getting partway through a Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa preview.

The menu attaches music to the static cast shots that were used in the cover art. Like other Paramount BDs, this one lets you set bookmarks on the film but does not resume playback in any way.

The lone item within the eco-friendly keepcase is an insert that supplies your code for accessing both a downloadable iTunes format HD digital copy and UltraViolet stream.

In "A.C.O.D.", Carter Spencer (Adam Scott) is bewildered by the new developments in the painful relationship of his parents.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

A.C.O.D. does not meet expectations for a funny romp in the vein of Step Brothers. Instead, the seasoned mainstream cast gives us an indie dramedy. Most viewers will want more than the sporadic diversion and uneven storytelling offered. Still, the earnest efforts of Adam Scott and company are probably enough to warrant a single look from those who watch a lot of new movies.

The Blu-ray's strong feature presentation and okay collection of extras don't really do anything to encourage or deter a rental. It's a disc you can easily imagine selling cheap in the near future.

Buy A.C.O.D. from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD UltraViolet / DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed January 24, 2014.



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