COMEDY

‘A.C.O.D.’: Good premise, good cast don’t guarantee a good movie | 2 stars

Updated: 2013-10-16T22:37:02Z

By MICK LASALLE

San Francisco Chronicle

Rated R | Time: 1:30

For a comedy by a first-time director, “A.C.O.D.” — it stands for “adult children of divorce” — has a remarkable cast.

Adam Scott stars, as a grown man still living with the consequences of his parents’ divorce, and he’s supported by a lot of people who either have headlined or easily could headline their own movies: Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ken Howard, Amy Poehler, Jessica Alba and Jane Lynch.

That’s a lot of talent and star power at play here, made all the more conspicuous in that they don’t really get much to work with. Not only is the movie just so-so, but the parts themselves aren’t much. Audiences may get ready to laugh as soon as Lynch strides into the frame, but she doesn’t have a comic role. O’Hara can’t buy a laugh, either, and Winstead, who was been coming on for years and was powerful in “Smashed,” has only one scene in which she gets to be more than decorative.

In “A.C.O.D.,” the parents — Jenkins and O’Hara — are long divorced and hate each other, but their youngest son is getting married, and so the elder son, Carter (Scott), contrives to bring about a rapprochement. From there, zany high jinks ensue, but there’s a major flaw in the story construction, which director Stu Zicherman almost but can’t quite paper over with energy and high spirits: Nothing that happens in the movie really has any real consequences for Carter. He may have feelings about this or that taking place, but if he’d only just stop getting upset, and acting frantic, nothing in his life would change.

As he has nothing at stake, neither does the audience. To its credit, “A.C.O.D.” does have amusing moments and even a couple of surprises, and it’s certainly watchable, which isn’t nothing. But the overall tone of “A.C.O.D.” works against it, one in which characters are trivialized even as we’re asked to take them seriously. It’s as if the filmmakers are riffing on truths and associations we’re expected to know and share, rather going down the extra layer to the real feelings, the real truth … and the real laughs.

(At the Studio 30.)

| Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

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