Adult Children of Divorce are among us. And they’re probably not as well-adjusted as they might pretend to be, according to Stu Zicherman, whose directorial debut A.C.O.D. tells the story of Carter (Adam Scott), one such product of divorce, as he helps his younger brother (Clark Duke) prepare for his wedding.
Carter owns a successful restaurant. He has a beautiful girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). And he’s successfully managed to keep the peace in his tumultuous family life till his brother asks that he get their parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara), who haven’t spoken in 15 years, to attend his wedding. That’s when everything begins to unravel.
EW spoke to Zicherman about the new poster, working with the ensemble cast of veteran comedians, and being the guy to turn Amy Poehler and Adam Scott, or one of television’s cutest couples, into an antagonistic stepmother and stepson pair.
A.C.O.D. was well-received at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It has an all-star cast of beloved comedians, including the Parks and Recreation sweeties, Jane Lynch, Adam Pally, and Sarah Burns. But it has a bit of a hurdle to get past. That name! It’s the kind of acronym that fits in seamlessly in a festival setting, but can be deadly in the marketplace.
“The big thing for us is about awareness of what an A.C.O.D. is,” Zicherman admits. “There’s a lot of debate about [keeping] the title.” But after a successful festival run, he says, “Part of the fun is meeting people who realize, ‘Oh my God, I’m part of a club I didn’t even know I was a part of.'” The next few months will be focused on making sure the ambiguous acronym is understood. And in a year of modestly scaled, Sundance-anointed films with extremely vague titles (The Spectacular Now, In a World, The Way, Way Back, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) and acronym-heavy flops (RED 2, R.I.P.D.), A.C.O.D. is the most straightforward of any of them.
The poster is the first step on the educational campaign. “It’s an ensemble, but Adam is sort of in every scene and is at the center of the family hurricane that is the movie. We’d tried a bunch of posters with all the different [actors], and it just felt like this image summed up the notion of the surprises and the chaos of being an A.C.O.D,” says Zicherman.
Scott, a fellow A.C.O.D., Zicherman says, “is a great everyman. But he’s also got this great cynicism to him that is really unique and smart and emotional.” Part of his goal with this first feature was to, as he says, “cast the hell out of it.” And it worked. He even got Amy Poehler to play Carter’s evil, glamorous, aloof stepmother. “They both really embraced it,” Zicherman says. “I think they had a lot of fun with it.”
“The antagonism between a stepson and a stepmother is a very real thing,” says Zicherman. “He really doesn’t like her and she really doesn’t like him. And they were really, really good at it. He calls her the c–tessa.”
The movie has a few twists and turns, and overall, “It’s a broad comedy, but we wanted to make it emotionally resonant to people,” he says. “It’s also about becoming an adult, and so much of that is letting go of your childhood and the past.” Also, Zicherman adds: “No one has ever really attempted to make a divorce comedy.”
A.C.O.D. is rated R, and will be released theatrically some time in October.