Adult World is almost a movie about growing up, but it’s wedged in an indie land where growing up is something that other people do. Instead it clings to its precious indie cliches wasting two good performances on self-conscious cliches.
The trailer with its dynamic between Emma Roberts as a clueless aspiring young writer and John Cusack as a burned out poet would have made for a great movie, unfortunately that movie isn’t Adult World, which spends more time milking laughs and awkwardness out of Roberts’ job in an adult bookstore and her rooming with a transvestite.
Emma Roberts gives a great and very real performance as a ridiculous and very familiar character, the young poet with no clue, who is convinced of her own talent and is desperate to succeed. John Cusack’s grouchy Rat, a man whose glory days are in the past, is a good change of pace for the actor.
It’s not the actors who let down the movie, but the plot with its over-reliance on indie gimmicks, cliched teaching moments and characters and organic filler that lets the actors down.
Adult World would have been better off set on campus, instead indie cliches demand a goofy workplace and a story about growing up. Indie cliches also demand an outsider character to teach the white main character something about life and Adult World offers up a transvestite roommate. The plot that brings them together makes less sense than anything else in the movie, but the producers are just checking off an indie box.
Wacky old lady, check. Man-child boyfriend who could double for Jesse Eisenberg, check. And all that’s left is a movie that might have been good if it had grown up enough to break out of its indie shell.