Adult World didn’t feel like it got a fair shake. I was expecting the movie to be awful, befitting its reviews, and it’s actually a neat little comedy about striving and trying to be an artist in a completely indifferent world. Maybe it’s because for every bit of staleness in the flick — the worst plot thread is how the aspiring poet college grad ends up working at a porn store, and she meets a magical transgender character who teachers her how to be less virginal and suburban — there’s an equal amount of real searching and a very, very accurate sense of place in the film.
They filmed it up in Syracuse and it’s got an authentically shitty, dead mill town upstate vibe. The movie feels frozen and blue in a way you only get up in the hinterlands. I found Emma Roberts kind of charming as a chirpy 22 year old aspiring poet convinced of her genius with all the bonhomie of youth, clashing with John Cusack’s past-his-prime, former bad boy boy wonder poet. (Let’s be honest — it’s a lot easier to write poems and take them seriously when you’re a virgin, right?) And I thought the film did a good job of not really believing that, well, anyone’s art in the film was that brilliant or crucial, in a sweet fashion, compared to other zeitgeist shows of the moment that give me whiplash. I might have loved the film at 22 and figured out its wisdom years after the fact. Nowadays I just was able to appreciate it with the grace of somebody who moved away from home.
I’d love to read the original script.