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"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance
of things, but their inner significance." ~ Aristotle

Cinema Signal: Elements of appeal for TV family drama audiences. MOBILE version |
. "Adult Beginners"

What this completely fabricated comedy demonstrates above all else are the conceptual lengths to which a writer must go in the pursuit of getting a deal to make a feature movie that has the look and feel of a TV episode -- which it's likely to be in short time. At least, however, this not untypical New York make-work project deserves a few modifiers.

Not one of those, though, would be a claim that it's a great showcase film, which I'd argue it's not. And, the primary reason for that is the person in the lead role. It's not that actor Nick Kroll doesn't know his craft -- just that his destiny is more a supporting role in anything that rises to broad commercial interest in the feature film realm.

And, then, there's the reason I agreed to watch this movie in the first place -- one of the more refreshing thespians in the cast: Bobby Cannavale (born, Roberto). And, he doesn't disappoint. (Remember his Chili married to Sally Hawkins' Ginger in "Blue Jasmine?") I might even say he stole the show, except that the script limited that effect to a minimum. But, he plays the only character to whom I had a connection in this movie.

So, Jake (Kroll), a pushy, overly clever hipster type who never let a slick line or ironic twist get away, puts together a group of rich New York types to give him start up money for his new company. A few do but venture capitalists want no part of it, making Jake bid goodbye to his Big Idea to the threatening tones of very angry early investors.

He loads up his breezy, superficial front along with his few belongings and exits his fab city apartment. He makes for sis Justine (Rose Byrne, "Bridesmaids"), bro-in-law Danny (Cannavale) and Teddy, his 3-year old nephew, for a survival visit out in the suburbs, which is where the rest of the plot unfolds at a tamer, less jazzy metabolic rate.

Which brings us to the central theme of the show, which is how such a man deals with the unknown concept (to him) of responsibility and, in a phrase, grow up. It starts with him having to agree to become Teddy's nanny in order to ease some burdens for a household burdened by tight schedules, mom's pregnancy, baby sitting issues and the dramatic dynamics of serious marital issues.

It's just not a pretty picture as Kroll is too limited with what he can do with the personality he either has or creates for the film.

(I'll go with the former).

Rose Byrne is another story. While she more or less vamps her way through this group ordeal, she made an impression. At first, she's glib, on top of things, and not the goddess she thinks she is; but as the movie wore on in its bantering, pseudo-serious way, she convinced me that I may have been wrong about that initial reaction. [Oh, shock]. At the end, she left me with a desire to see her winsome cuteness in a role with more substance, wider appeal and not such a "New York young culture" piece.

Ross Katz directed; Jeff Cox, Liz Flahive and others wrote, and I gotta go.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

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