ADULT BEGINNERS

ADULT BEGINNERS

By Gary Murray

Starring Rose Byrne, Nick Kroll and Bobby Cannavale

Written by Jeff Cox and Liz Flahive

Directed by Ross Katz

Running time 90 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating Matinee


There are films that suck all the air out of the room, that command all the attention of media.  They are the blockbusters of summer, films that are tent pole flicks.  Then there are the quiet little films that come in under the radar and under tight budgets.  They are the films that are a personal achievement for both the film-maker and the actors who are part of the experience.  One of these little films is Adult Beginners.

The film starts with a crash.   Jake (Nick Kroll) is an investment guru who is on the verge of making a killing with a new product.  But a manufacturing glitch destroys his entire empire in a swoop and he’s destitute and homeless.   With no place to go, he goes home.

His sister Justine (Rose Byrne) and her husband Danny (Bobby Cannavale) are fixing up the family home in order to sell it.  They have a young son Teddy and another child on the way.  Jake has drifted away from his sister and really doesn’t know the family.  But, family is family and they take him in. 

Eventually, he agrees to become a ‘manny’ or a male nanny.   Jake bonds with his young nephew over swimming lessons and play dates.  The latter involves Jake’s new friend Blanca (Paula Garces) and a bit of afternoon delights. 

The film is about martial infidelity and the grind that is long term marriage.  It is also about sibling connections and how we can love people we really don’t know.  In the end, the film is also about regrets and what is ultimately important in life.   It is one of those films that have everyone learning a lesson.

Adult Beginners is directed by Ross Katz, an award winning producer/writer/director who has worked in film and television for years.  Here, he goes to Film 101 and gives the audience simple shots, letting his actors carry the scenes.  There is nothing fancy going on with the direction or the camera movements. 

Rose Byrne has always been a favorite actress and here she just shines as Justine the put upon sister and wife.  There is this sadness in her eyes, a world-weary existence that says she has survived everything every slammed at her and is still manages to keep a smile on her face no matter what the diversity. 

This is a showcase role for Nick Kroll.  The comic has been doing small roles on TV and voice over works for years but this is his true chance of getting on the short list of go-to comic roles.   But, he finds some moments of tenderness with his child co-star and Rose Byrne.  The actor holds his own with two hard groups—little kids and seasoned professionals.  He performs with comic precision with each one.

Bobby Cannavale is another actor who has been around for years but has never become one of the mainstream thespians of film.  This shows a much more varied set of performance skills for the actor and should be a calling card for more work.  He is a talented actor and has a nice range in the role of Danny.

Adult Beginners is getting a small opening along with a VOD release.  If it does well in the few theaters released and generates positive interest via streaming content, it will get a wider and more commercial release. That is becoming the new platform release idea.  While it makes finical sense, there is still an old school adage of just wanting to see a first run film in a theater and not on the television screen. 

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