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‘Adult World’ tries too hard to entertain

Date: 6/25/2014

Two movies that had potential – so I thought – are in this week’s film review column.

On DVD: Adult World
Have you met someone who is absolutely convinced that he or she is a star in their field of endeavor, despite the fact there is no tangible proof to confirm that assumption?  That’s Amy’s problem (played in Emma Roberts) in the comedy “Adult World.”

She has been told since childhood she has talent as a poet and now that she has graduated from college she assumes literary magazines will accept her submissions and her career will begin.

It doesn’t and rather than accept the harsh dose of reality she runs away from her parents’ home and winds up getting a job manning the register at a benign little pornography store run by an elderly couple (Cloris Leachman and John Cullum).

She also happens upon the poetry of Rat Billings (John Cusack), a one-time literary star and finds out he lives in the same city. She decides he is going to be her mentor. He decides she can clean his house for free.

Director Scott Coffey and writer Andy Cochran want to present this story as a comedy and there are moments at which I smiled. The problem I had with this film was the central character. Amy is a self-delusional snob and I didn’t find her all-too-slow journey to reality very amusing.

I was hoping this film would be about the nature of being creative while struggling to make a living and the lessons folks learn, but that discussion was curtailed by Amy’s character.

Roberts has some good comedy chops – she was the runaway girl in “We are the Millers”– but the shrill character is too much to overcome.

The best scenes are those between Amy and Rat. Cusack is a favorite actor of mine and here he gets a good role that allows him to show some range.

“Adult World” tries hard to entertain, but ultimately it doesn’t succeed.

On DVD: Wicked Blood
What happens when a DVD label has a slow, bordering on tedious Southern Gothic crime drama? They dress it up as an action film.

If this title turns up at the Red Box, there will be some disappointed people.

Abigail Breslin stars as Hannah, a teen chess whiz who apparently is on a permanent summer vacation in some sleepy Louisiana town. She lives with her sister and Uncle Donny, who work for her Uncle Frank (played by Sean Bean) who is the local crime boss.

He sits in a darkened office of his strip club barking orders to people with his son Bobby (Jake Busey) sitting by his side. Both actors basically phone in their performances.

Hannah has some sort of plan to escape from her Uncle Frank on the strategic skills she has learned from chess. She first gets a job conveying the drugs cooked by Uncle Donny for Uncle Frank to various customers, including the leader of a local motorcycle gang. She then substitutes crushed up vitamins for the drugs in order to cause problems between the bikers and Frank and starts planting the idea in Donny’s mind that they all could get away from Frank.

This seems to take about four or five hours to convey to us. The pacing is very slow and it’s difficult to believe this young woman really has such a plan.

The climax gets to the border of action film territory without really treading on it.

Breslin isn’t bad in her role, but the script isn’t there to give any of the other performers much to go on.