Comedic Growth: A Review of ‘Adult Beginners’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 08, 2015
Comedic Growth: A Review of ‘Adult Beginners’

In any walk of life, there are times that we all have to start over and press the reset buttons on our lives.  Adult Beginners is that kind of story and it makes for a heartfelt and genuine comedy that resonates on so many levels as it marks a slightly new career path for star, writer and producer Nick Kroll.

The world is at the fingertips for young, hip entrepreneur Jake (Nick Kroll) that is until it all comes crashing around him when his new start-up flops on the eve of his launch.  A broke failure with very few friends left in the world, he escapes the concrete jungle of Manhattan to move in with his estranged sister (Rose Byrne), his brother-in-law (Bobby Cannavale) and his three year old nephew in the ‘burbs.  Job opportunities are thin and the only one available is becoming his nephew’s ‘manny’.  Faced with some real responsibility for the first time in his life, he finally learns the meaning of true success that not only gets him back on top of the corporate world, but with his family as

A surprisingly fresh breath of comedic air that opens at the Carlton today and is available via iTunes and VOD as well, Adult Beginners is genuine, kind hearted and emotional in all the right places with just the right levels of shtick and physical comedy sprinkled in.

Director Ross Katz, effortlessly slides into the director’s chair here on his second feature with a fair bit of ease.  It’s a story that we have seen plenty of times before but it never comes across as tired or ham handed and allows us to go along for the ride.  The script by Jeff Cox and Liz Flahive (With Kroll having a story credit) feels effortless and genuine as it never tries for hokey comedic moments and it never forces the humor at any time.  Katz’s allows his cast to do their thing at a measured pace and lets the story unfold as it should rather than trying to get us from shenanigan filled setup to shenanigan filled set up.  It all works because we never feel like we are watching a comedy, but we are actually watching people’s lives and we are rooting for them every step of the way.

Nick Kroll makes the jump to a more measured type of comedic performance then we are used to seeing from him with an astonishing amount of ease.  Much like Adam Sandler in his more dramatic roles there are no sly winks to the camera or anything unnecessarily goofy and he builds a character for us to be able to get behind and root for every step of the way.  Rose Byrne as his sister continues to show some surprisingly solid comedic chops as her frustrated mother character gets to work it for laughs and sympathy at the exactly the same time.  Bobby Cannavale who is seemingly in everything this year is just as good as the emotionally frustrated brother in law and as Kroll bounces between all three of the primary characters everything just feels effortless and fun.  Joel McHale, Jane Krakowski , Josh Charles &  Bobby Moynihan all get some quick moments to shine as supporting players but it is Kroll and Byrne who make this work as they have a great on screen dynamic with each other.

No matter how you see it, either in the theatre or on demand, Adult Beginners is worth the money as it lets us laugh at moments that we’ve all experienced or at least will experience in our lives.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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