Another in the long line of Duplass Brothers productions at SXSW, Adult Beginners is an easy-going comedy-drama about a guy (Kroll) who moves back in with his sister (Byrne), her husband (Cannavale) and their son (played by twins Caleb and Matthew Paddock) when his tech business collapses. Living in his dream city apartment and a bubble of venture capitalist funding, after moving to their small town, Jake is faced with the pressure of real responsibility when the only job he can pick up is being nanny to his three-year-old nephew.
Though Adult Beginners is quite formulaic and predictable, the film still has the heartfelt emotion to hook you in. The plot and style of comedy are inoffensive but the film manages to create enough pull for the characters that when the charming – if predictable – conclusion loops back in, you’re still along for the ride.
The three leads all play their parts well, Nick Kroll is a lovable doofus flailing to turn his life around, Rose Burne is sharp-yet-sensitive as the sister and Bobby Cannavalle tows the line between fun-loving-husband and slimy brother-in-law. It’s Cannavale that provides the film’s only edge, but Adult Beginners needed to push the boundaries a little more if it was to really take flight.
It’s not as sharp or witty as you’d expect from a Duplass Brothers product ion but Adult Beginners is still another decent outing in their ever-impressive canon. Content being safe isn’t necessarily the worst idea given the charming cast on hand.