Adult World (2014)
In ADULT WORLD, the new film by Actor-turned-Director Scott Coffey, Emma Roberts plays Amy, a recent college graduate with aspirations of becoming a renowned poet like her hero Rat Billings (played by John Cusack). She quickly finds herself taking a job at a porn shop to get by, and dramatic coming-of-age comedy ensues as she befriends a transgendered individual, stalks Billings (who turns out to be more of a rat than his name suggests), and generally learns how to cope with her delusions in the real world. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but it’s damn entertaining.
Roberts – the real-life daughter of Actor Eric Roberts – is a joy to watch onscreen. She’s charming in her naivety and plays the role of aloof twenty-something very believably; probably because she is that age herself. Cusack, who is best known for playing the likeable hero, changes gears here to play the arrogant Billings. His wry humor works well for the part, and while we don’t like him (we’re not really supposed to), he’s always a pleasure to watch. The real surprise here is Armando Riesco, who plays Rubia, the transgendered person that eventually takes Amy in when she gets thrown out of her house by her parents. While the performance is sure to leave some people thinking of Jared Leto in last year’s DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB (which is way more Oscar-bait material), Riesco makes it his own and is utterly believable, fantastically funny, and just downright mesmerizing at times.
Andy Cochran’s script is smart enough to capitalize on the real-world problems that surround people who are fresh out of college, and I can’t help but feel that there is probably some sort of autobiographical truth in Amy’s character. Of course, Amy and the events that take place in the film are a bit over-the-top, but they still resonate and evoke a sort of cynical sentimentality. At least, they did for me. I suppose there are some that won’t connect with the material, but for anyone who’s found themselves working a job that they didn’t really care about, during an awkward transitory phase in their life, should be able to relate. I suppose people who’ve actually worked in mom-and-pop porn shops might get even more out of the subject matter.
Coffey’s direction is solid, though I’m not sure that there’s anything going on here that would necessarily key us in that it’s his voice telling the story. Honestly, with a cast this good, and the right technical people on board – Cinematographer James Laxton, who also shot last year’s excellent BAD MILO, does a wonderful job here – it probably eases the burden on the director. Still, I’ve seen enough movies to know directorial competence, and as a second feature, ADULT WORLD more than proves that Coffey has the chops for the job.
Ultimately, ADULT WORLD has some good laughs, some decent dramatic moments, and just enough magic to make me remember what it was like to be in my early twenties. It’s not as good as Greg Mottola’s ADVENTURELAND at mixing and balancing all of the elements, but it is a good film nonetheless that I will definitely be revisiting down the line.