"Rich white guy loses all his money" is probably a really compelling pitch to other rich white guys. Cue shirtless rich dude staring bleakly into his bathroom mirror: "What if all this money is keeping me from living an authentic life?" Etc.
If you're not innately drawn to the premise, however, it's hard to get too excited about Adult Beginners, in which richy rich techbro Jake (Nick Kroll) accidentally goes humiliatingly broke and moves back to his hometown to live with his sister (Rose Byrne) and her family. Jake spends his time nannying for his nephew and learning how to be an adult, which is, like, not that impressive? Because he's in his 30s and definitely should be one already?
Throw in some family drama, a few jabs at Jake's reduced station, and Jake learning a bunch of interpersonal lessons that, again, he should definitely have learned already, because he is an ADULT MAN, and you've got another low-key dramedy about fancy people and their problems.
Every now and then, the splintered bone of a more interesting movie juts through the skin of this one: One subplot involves how Jake bailed on caring for his terminally ill mom, leaving his sister to pick up the slack. This opens the door for an oblique consideration of the obligation placed on women to be caregivers—not just of their kids, but of their ill and aging parents. Or there's the moment Jake admits to the woman he's sleeping with that, though he sees their relationship as just a fling, he wants her to be upset that he's not more invested. That's some real shit, and it's the sort of shit that's sadly lacking in the rest of the film. Adult Beginners isn't bad, it's just profoundly bland. Watching it is like trying to emotionally connect with a potato.
Dir. Ross Katz
Opens Friday, May 1
Tin Pan Theater