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Well-acted and thoughtful storytelling, but a lazy third act that leaves you feeling hollow.
I really enjoyed Adult Beginners for about the first hour. I was surprised at its score and reception because it was one of the more realistic dramedies about family life and adulthood I've seen in recent memory. The characters felt real, the chemistry was phenomenal, I cared about what was happening, and it was nice to see Nick Kroll playing the straight everyman for once. As great as Kroll was, he didn't quite carry the movie as much as the supporting cast did. Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale are fantastic as Kroll's sister and her husband (and their chemistry is palpable, given they're a couple in real life), and they play off Kroll's deadpan humor with sincerity and ease. It was great to see Kroll's character having to redo his entire life, then crashing his sister's place and having to adjust to this family-centered lifestyle. It was honest and heartfelt, and there are moments between Kroll and Cannavale (who plays the brother-in-law) that are genuinely deep and thought provoking. I wanted more of that.
The humor is intermittent. It's not really a laugh-out-loud comedy despite what you might think with this cast. It's far more subdued and dramatic than a typical Nick Kroll vehicle, and it worked. For a while, anyway. The last 30 minutes of this movie felt like the writers tried to tie the movie up in a pretty pink bow as quickly as possible and call it a day. It was so rushed and half-hearted, leaving interesting subplots by the wayside and throwing this faux happily-ever-after ending that completely detracts from the overall tone. Everything is well-paced and subtle before then, taking you along for the ride and keeping you strapped in for every awkward situation or heartfelt moment, but the ending makes it all for nothing. It's like, "That's it? What happened to everything else I just saw?" The authenticity went out the window.
Having said that, Adult Beginners is very relatable. These feel like real people going through real life crises, and each of the main characters have depth and character flaws that you want to be explored. Some of them are, some aren't. Overall though, I enjoyed this movie for what it was, and if you don't mind a lame ending, I think it's definitely worth a watch.
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