MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Adult Beginners’ Is A Guaranteed Good Time


Film: Adult Beginners
Starring: Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne
Directed by: Ross Katz

Nick Kroll has finally hit his mark.

Following years of making a living from stage to television and back again portraying an asshole in one way or another, comedian turned producer and actor, Nick Kroll has developed something undeniably great with Adult Beginners. A simple story about family that takes on a life of its own, the film finds a fine balance between comedy and drama that will no doubt win over moviegoers young and old.

Kroll did not write Adult Beginners, but he did develop the story before bringing on Jeff Cox and Liz Flahive to pen the script. Their real life experience with raising a child while preparing to have a second, an event that happened during the creation of the film, lent itself perfectly toward the dynamic between Kroll’s on-screen sister, Justine (Rose Byrne), and her hard to resist husband Danny (Bobby Cannavale) who happen to be experiencing the same life-changing event in the film. It’s them who find Nick Kroll’s character, Jake, on their doorstep following the unexpected collapse of Jake’s once promising tech startup. He’s allowed to stay in exchange for being a nanny to their son, Teddy, and Jake begrudgingly accepts.

There are a number of films with similar framework to that of Adult Beginners, but the film finds a way to separate itself by focusing on the unique and dynamic relationship(s) shared by the film’s three leads. Jake and his sister certainly have a timeless bond, but one could argue the bond between Justine and Danny is equally strong. Jake and Danny share a friendship that is as intimate as two men can be, but where does that rank compared to the relationship they each share with Justine? By asking this question and exploring the various places it may lead Adult Beginners finds itself revealing not one, but three people in need of new beginnings, and in doing so stumbles upon something quite remarkable.

This is a film that lives or dies based on the talent of its cast, and Kroll could not have chosen a better group to surround himself with for his first leading role. Byrne and Cannavale are typically brilliant. Their real life relationship may have a thing or two to do with how believable their on-screen marriage seems, but if it works it works and I’m not about to complain. Likewise, Joel McHale’s turn as the overly smug guy with no real reason to be so damn smug goes over about as well as an above average episode of The Soup. Mike Birbiglia appears as well, but he’s on and off screen so fast you might not notice.

Though the film never hits the comedic hits that make it a gut-busting romp, nor the emotional depths to make me recommend a box of tissues, Adult Beginners offers original storytelling that delivers good feelings and plenty of laughs. It might not be the best film you see this year, but I can guarantee you will walk away entertained. That’s more than you can say for most films released today, so take a week off from comic book movies and long-running franchise sequels to experience something made from the heart. It’s good for your soul.


Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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