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There is a scene in Scott Coffey's Adult World involving a transgender male and a devout and somewhat psychotic poet riding a bike made for two chasing after an elusive poet who is speeding away in a car so that the psychotic poet can make another attempt at talking to her biggest influence and showing just how weirdly intrusive she can be.
Stating that scene and that scene only to a person would make them think said film is nothing but a desperate little comedy, when in reality, Adult World is another one of those films that is actually wise and thoughtful but dressed up in stupid people's clothes. Seems I'm running into this unfortunate predicament a lot. The problem with this kind of filmmaking tactic, whether it's intentional or unintentional, is that it has the potential of alienating those who need to see the film the most.
The film focuses on a recent college graduate named Amy (Emma Roberts, whom I never tired of seeing). A poetry major who has racked up over $90k in student loans, Amy wishes she could make a living verbalizing whatever comes to her mind and carry on with a relatively safe but fulfilling life. However, reality - and her parents - prohibit this dream from happening, so Amy must get a real job, and with little options, she accepts a job at Adult World, the local provider of vibrators, sex dolls, pornographic movies, sex toys, lube, etc.
Amy is repulsed at first, as she's always kind of sheltered herself from the icky realms of human pleasure and sexual exploration, but she quickly befriends the charming Alex (Evan Peters), who shares some of her interests as well as her circumstances. Amy, however, is desperate in trying to win the attention of Rat Billings (John Cusack), one of her favorite poets who has recently come to town. She pesters Rat, constantly invading his privacy and bugging him, until he offers her a position as his assistant at Syracuse University.
The three main actors rarely misstep in their performances, however, the character of Amy is definitely skating on thin ice in terms of acceptability. Amy, when by herself or with Alex, is fine, but when she's in the company of Rat, she becomes obsessive, hyper, and borderline psychotic. The problem with that is not only is that this side of her is annoying but it lessens her realism as this fanatical behavior is not the kind you'd think she'd be doing. It's almost like she suffers from multiple-personality disorder.
And again, there's a sort of convention to the material, despite the film's characters being relatively unique. Then there's a transgender character that is nothing more than a character to have to muster up some shock amongst audience members. But the thing that sets Adult World apart from other dramas is that it doesn't hesitate to explore the blessing and the curse that is being creative in contemporary America. In a country that is advanced predominately by scientific, mathematical, and technological milestones and achievements, opportunities, let alone viable ones, for liberal arts, poets, English, or writers are scarce. It's almost as if in an increasingly complex world, those who attempt to define it aren't wanted.
It's a sad fact and Adult World pleasantly recognizes it, giving us a likable protagonist who is good at what she does - confident, amiable, and always friendly - but burdened by a lack of opportunities. She has bravely majored in poetry, but is now facing reality in that the only potentially-lucrative job for her is a published author, but good luck getting someone to read your work. And, oh yeah, here's a bill near six-figures for that college education too.
I plan on attending college this fall as an English major with a minor in a business field, perhaps marketing. I'm completely unsure of where those fields will get me and those like me are probably equally unsure. Adult World is a film for those types of people to see - people who know what they want to be, know what they like, and have found a passion at a young age, but are tragically low on opportunities.
Starring: Emma Roberts, John Cusack, and Evan Peters. Directed by: Scott Coffey.
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