In today’s ever-evolving cinematic landscape, few movies have managed to capture the zeitgeist of contemporary youth as compellingly as Dustin Guy Defa’s “The Adults”. This film, teeming with both humor and introspection, dives headfirst into the popular culture phenomenon of “adulting.” As the term hints, it’s about the trials and tribulations, the comedy and the tragedy, of trying to be an adult in an era that both mocks and demands it.
Growing up has always been a universal theme in film, but “The Adults” presents it with a fresh lens. At its core, the narrative revolves around a generation grappling with an identity crisis. With a past marked by abundance and now facing a present of uncertainty, the characters embody the struggle of reconciling childhood comforts with the stark realities of adulthood. But what does it really mean to be an adult in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world? And how does one find their footing amidst shifting sands?
Defa’s storytelling does more than just scratch the surface. By weaving together humor, drama, and poignant moments, he delves deep into the generational discomfort associated with traditional adult roles. This isn’t just a story of growth; it’s an exploration of evolution, of trying to fit into molds that may no longer exist.
“The Adults” raises questions that resonate with many of us. How do we navigate the expectations placed upon us, especially when they feel foreign or outdated? As we journey through this film, these questions become ours, prompting introspection and maybe even a bit of self-discovery. Welcome to “The Adults Review”, an in-depth look at a movie that dares to ask hard questions and leaves us pondering our own answers.
Table of Contents
The Evolution of Adulthood
In every era, the rite of passage into adulthood has been accompanied by its own unique set of challenges and expectations. Historically, the societal benchmarks of “growing up” have been quite clear-cut: getting a steady job, settling down, and starting a family.
For past generations, these milestones acted as a roadmap, offering direction and purpose. Fast forward to today, and the definition of adulthood appears less defined, more fluid, and riddled with its own set of intricacies.
From Stability to Fluidity
In earlier times, the process of becoming an adult was fairly linear. The societal norms dictated the sequence: education, employment, marriage, children, and so on. Adulthood was often synonymous with responsibility and was tied closely to economic independence.
Fast-paced changes in technology, economy, and societal norms in recent years have blurred these lines. Today, the journey into adulthood is less about following a set path and more about personal exploration and finding one’s own way amidst the cacophony of choices.
The World of “The Adults”
Delving into “The Adults”, the film’s canvas vividly paints this transformation. Yet, it’s essential to note the film’s primary demographic focus. It homes in on white, suburban, young adults who come from backgrounds of relative affluence. While this specific portrayal might not encompass the full spectrum of youth experiences, it offers a telling commentary on a section of society that, in many ways, represents the juxtaposition of privilege and existential angst.
These characters aren’t facing financial hardships or struggling for basic necessities. Instead, they grapple with an internal turmoil stemming from societal expectations, personal aspirations, and the haunting notion of a ticking clock. The film highlights the often overlooked pressure on this demographic: the burden of having every resource at one’s disposal and yet feeling adrift, the paradox of plenty.
The Unspoken Struggles
The film’s astute commentary on the often unspoken struggles of these white, suburban youths. They are torn between the desire to cling to the comforts of their youth and the societal demand to fit into predefined adult roles. This dichotomy represents a broader theme — the challenge of finding genuine meaning in a world where traditional milestones might no longer hold the same weight.
While “The Adults” is set against the backdrop of a specific demographic, its themes are universal. It encapsulates the uncertainty, the yearning, and the quest for identity that is emblematic of young adults everywhere, navigating the complex landscape of contemporary adulthood.
Navigating Adulthood in “The Adults”
Michael Cera steps into the frame as Eric, a character that brilliantly captures the essence of millennial arrested development. On the surface, he seems to be the embodiment of the modern-day adult: a blend of youthful nonchalance and an air of maturity. Yet, beneath the laid-back exterior lies a young man grappling with the complexities of adulthood, unable to sever the ties of his childhood.
Eric’s attire, a casual ensemble of baggy clothes, sets the tone for his character. From his patchy beard to his unhurried demeanor, he stands as a poignant representation of a generation caught in transition. On the one hand, there’s the pressure to grow up, to evolve, to adapt. On the other, there’s a palpable longing to cling to the familiar comfort of one’s youth.
Deception and Poker: Eric’s Escape
What brings Eric back to his hometown? On the surface, it’s a simple visit, a chance to reconnect with his roots. But as the narrative unfolds, layers of deception come to light. Eric’s initial claims of wanting to spend time with his sisters, Rachel and Maggie, soon unravel as nothing more than a façade. Instead of heartfelt family reunions, Eric’s true intention is revealed: an insatiable urge to revive old poker games.
Poker, in this storyline, is more than just a game. It symbolizes Eric’s escape, a refuge from the demands of adulthood. Whether it’s the thrill of the gamble or the nostalgia of a pastime, the poker table becomes Eric’s sanctuary. It’s where he can momentarily forget the weight of responsibilities, the expectations, and just be. For Eric, the cards aren’t about winning or losing; they’re about finding a slice of solace amidst the chaos of growing up.
Sisters, Memories, and Growing Pains
Rachel and Maggie, Eric’s sisters, provide a counterpoint to his narrative. While the bond they share is evident in their shared inside jokes and quirky routines, there’s an underlying tension that’s hard to miss. Rachel’s somewhat standoffish demeanor contrasts sharply with Maggie’s affectionate nature, but both yearn for a genuine connection with their elusive brother.
Their shared memories paint a vivid picture of a carefree childhood. From speaking in playful Marge Simpson voices to recreating iconic dance sequences, these moments serve as a refuge from the strains of adulthood. These antics, though seemingly frivolous, are a testament to the trio’s deep-seated bond. They are a shared language, a realm where they can momentarily shed their adult skins and bask in the golden glow of nostalgia.
Yet, these playful interludes are punctuated by moments of stark reality. The crux of their strained relationship is unveiled gradually, revealing a rift formed by distance, time, and the shadow of a shared tragedy – the loss of their mother. Eric’s emotional distance, especially from Rachel, becomes a puzzle that the film masterfully unravels, laying bare the vulnerabilities of a young man haunted by past regrets.
Adulthood’s Ambiguous Labyrinth
In “The Adults”, Eric stands as a beacon for every millennial navigating the murky waters of adulthood. His journey, punctuated by deception, nostalgia, and strained familial ties, offers a raw glimpse into the heart of a generation striving to find its footing.
Through poker games, sibling antics, and shared memories, the narrative delves deep into the challenges of growing up. While Eric’s escapades might be uniquely his own, the emotions they evoke are universal. The longing for simpler times, the struggle to reconcile past and present, and the quest for genuine connections in an increasingly disconnected world – these are the hallmarks of “The Adults”.
And as the credits roll, one thing becomes clear: adulthood isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. A winding path filled with detours, roadblocks, and moments of clarity. And just like Eric, every millennial is on a quest to find their way through this ambiguous labyrinth.
Beyond Words in “The Adults”
As life unfolds with its many intricacies, Eric seems to grapple with its rigors through various forms of play. But this isn’t merely escapism; it’s a lens to view and understand his interactions, especially with those closest to him. When words falter and emotions bubble under the surface, Eric resorts to games, most notably poker, to navigate the tangled web of his feelings and relationships.
Poker, for Eric, isn’t merely about the cards on the table. It represents an attempt to regain control in a life where many things seem uncertain. The rules are clear, the outcomes, though influenced by chance, can be maneuvered with skill. Contrasting this with his real-world interactions, we see a man struggling, trying to find a balance between the expectations of adulthood and the nostalgia of youth.
Quirks from a Shared History
Peel back the layers of time, and one can almost see the trio of siblings – Eric, Rachel, and Maggie – lost in a world of make-believe. Their quirky interactions aren’t born overnight but are remnants of a shared past. These moments, which outsiders might deem odd or out-of-place, are, for them, a treasure trove of memories. A language only they understand, a secret handshake shared between souls who’ve grown up side by side.
Whether it’s the not-so-terrible impersonation of Marge Simpson or the spontaneous dance routines, these interactions serve multiple purposes. On one hand, they are an homage to the days gone by, a time when life was simpler, laughter came easily, and the shadows of adulthood hadn’t yet cast their long shadows. On the other, they are a balm, a salve to heal the wounds of the present, the misunderstandings, the distances, the unspoken regrets.
Childhood Personas: A Refuge and a Bridge
When the weight of reality becomes too much to bear, the siblings retreat to the safe confines of their childhood personas. These aren’t mere acts of whimsy; they are lifelines. For Eric, particularly, these personas offer a momentary release from the complexities of his adult life. It’s not about evading reality but finding a momentary refuge to recharge and regroup.
Rachel and Maggie, in their own ways, also gravitate towards these routines. With Eric’s return stirring a mix of emotions, from joy to resentment, these personas offer a neutral ground. A space where they can communicate without the baggage of the present, where they can express without fear of judgment.
The elaborate routines, which might come off as twee to the uninitiated, become an essential tool for the siblings. Whether it’s a goofy song or a dance, they provide a moment of connection, a reminder that despite the present’s challenges, their bond remains unbroken. Through these acts, they remember, reconnect, and sometimes even reconcile.
Delving into “The Adults”
Dustin Guy Defa, in his directorial execution of “The Adults”, masterfully treads the tightrope between the film’s innate charm and the underlying tension. This balance is most evident in the interactions of the main characters.
Where one moment the audience is entranced by the siblings’ shared, heartwarming antics, the next moment, they’re pulled into a web of resentment and unresolved emotions. Through subtle shifts in camera focus, pauses in dialogue, and ambient background scores, Defa transports the audience between these two realms, making the viewing experience both pleasurable and thought-provoking.
Eric’s Mysterious Aura: A Puzzle Yet to be Solved
One of the standout elements of “The Adults” is the cloud of mystery surrounding Eric. From the tidbits of his life in Portland, where hints of a reasonably successful career emerge, to the enigma of his prolonged absence from his family, the audience is kept constantly guessing. Defa doesn’t hand answers on a silver platter but sprinkles clues throughout. It’s through fleeting mentions, brief flashbacks, and subdued reactions that the tragic history involving their mother’s death is inferred.
This storytelling choice amplifies the intrigue around Eric. Is he the proverbial prodigal son returning? Or is there a deeper reason for his evasiveness? The audience is nudged to put on their detective hats, piecing together this puzzle as the narrative unfolds.
Painting a Familiar Picture: Nostalgia and Ennui
A significant triumph of “The Adults” lies in its setting. The film does not resort to exotic locations or grand set pieces. Instead, it finds its strength in the mundane, familiar locales that resonate with most Americans. The choice of settings – diners, bowling alleys, house parties, and zoos – does more than just set the stage. They serve as silent storytellers, echoing the sentiments of the characters and the essence of the narrative.
Each location is a testament to a shared American experience. The diner, often symbolic of comfort and routine, hints at the simple joys of life. The bowling alley, with its lanes leading straight ahead, can be seen as a metaphor for life’s journey, with its ups and downs, strikes, and misses. The zoo, a place of wonder during childhood, now stands as a reminder of the confines and limitations adulthood often brings. Lastly, the house party becomes a stage for social rituals, a mix of revelry and revelations.
These locales are more than mere backdrops. They are vessels of nostalgia, evoking memories of a time gone by, and simultaneously, vessels of ennui, capturing the monotony and existential pondering of modern-day adulthood. Through them, Defa successfully encapsulates the dichotomy of past joys and present-day introspection, making “The Adults” a cinematic mirror reflecting shared experiences and emotions.
A Deep Dive into “The Adults”
“The Adults” isn’t just a movie. It’s a reminiscence, a journey back to the simpler times of skinned knees, bedtime stories, and boundless imagination. This nostalgia, which the film beautifully encapsulates, is not just for the sake of sentimentality.
It serves a deeper purpose, juxtaposing the carefree days of youth against the convoluted, often unfulfilling, maze of adulthood. Through the siblings’ whimsical interactions and their escapades rooted in childhood routines, the movie subtly underlines a yearning, almost a lament, for that lost paradise where worries were fewer, and joys, plentiful.
The Weight of Unresolved Emotions
One cannot discuss “The Adults” without delving into the thick cloud of unsaid words, unexpressed feelings, and unresolved emotions. This weight is felt most palpably in the movie’s finale. While the film teases with humor and charm, it doesn’t shy away from confronting the more challenging emotional terrain.
The finale, with its mix of tearful confessions and evasive awkwardness, epitomizes this. It’s almost as if the characters, especially Eric, use humor as a defense mechanism, a buffer against the raw pain of reality. This poignant portrayal underscores a universal truth: sometimes, we hide behind laughter because confronting our pain head-on is too overwhelming.
Navigating Adulthood: Expectations vs. Realities
The very essence of “The Adults” lies in its exploration of the concept of growing up. What does it mean to be an adult in today’s world? While societal norms and expectations paint a picture of stability, responsibility, and maturity, the personal realities often diverge. Eric’s character is a testament to this dichotomy. On one hand, there’s the societal image of adulthood – achieving career success, settling down, shouldering responsibilities. On the other hand, there’s the individual’s truth, replete with internal conflicts, the struggle for identity, and the quest for genuine happiness.
The film beautifully raises a pertinent question: If “adulting” is merely a performance, laden with societal pressures and devoid of genuine fulfillment, isn’t there merit in holding onto those aspects of childhood that bring true joy?
Through its characters, settings, and narrative arcs, “The Adults” does more than just tell a story. It prompts introspection, urging viewers to redefine adulthood on their terms, unshackled by societal dictates.
Unraveling “The Adults”
Throughout “The Adults,” one can’t help but notice its affinity for quirk. While eccentricity can serve as an artistic flourish, adding depth and dimension to characters and plotlines, there’s a tightrope walk between endearing idiosyncrasy and over-reliance.
In certain moments, particularly during the siblings’ interactions, the film seems to lean heavily on its quirk factor. This raises the question: Is the film using humor as an authentic narrative tool, or is it a shield, deflecting deeper explorations of character and emotion?
The climax of any film serves as its emotional fulcrum, often encapsulating the essence of the entire narrative. “The Adults” takes an audacious approach in its finale, striving to mesh raw emotion with the film’s inherent awkward charm. Yet, the juxtaposition of tearful confessions with an almost palpable awkwardness raises eyebrows.
While the intention might have been to depict genuine human interactions, replete with all their flaws and imperfections, the execution felt somewhat discordant. It’s as if the movie, much like its characters, struggles to articulate its emotions in these pivotal moments, rendering a scene that could have been the heart of the film into one that felt slightly adrift.
Addressing the film as a whole, “The Adults” unquestionably offers a fresh perspective on the complexities of growing up in the modern age. However, like any artistic endeavor, it’s not without its pitfalls. Its reliance on quirky humor, while endearing at times, occasionally feels like an overused crutch. Furthermore, the film’s climactic moments, which held the promise of emotional profundity, waver between genuine sentiment and misplaced awkwardness. Despite these critiques, it’s worth acknowledging the film’s merits and the introspection it prompts about adulthood’s intricate dance.
Redefining Adulthood in a Modern Landscape
Dustin Guy Defa’s “The Adults” doesn’t just offer scenes, dialogues, or characters; it crafts a mirror, reflecting the ever-evolving nature of what it means to be an ‘adult’ in our shifting societal landscape. This film, in its various hues of humor, nostalgia, and emotion, delves deep into the existential questions of modern maturity. It prompts viewers to ponder: Is the essence of being a grown-up rooted in traditional responsibilities and societal expectations? Or does it encapsulate a broader spectrum of emotions, experiences, and evolutions?
“The Adults” doesn’t necessarily answer all these queries. Instead, it posits an affirmation, subtle yet profound: Perhaps ‘growing up’ today isn’t about adhering rigidly to age-old milestones. Maybe it’s about finding authenticity amidst ambiguity, defining one’s path amid societal dictums, and, most importantly, preserving that spark of youthfulness even when confronted with life’s gravities. In its own unique way, the film champions a redefined perception of maturity—one where embracing your past, even if it means dancing like no one’s watching or echoing childhood jokes, is just as important as confronting and navigating the challenges of the present.
"The Adults" serves as a poignant reflection on modern adulthood, blending humor with heartfelt emotion. While it occasionally leans on its quirks as a narrative crutch, the film resonates with its authentic portrayal of familial bonds and the nostalgia of youth. It raises questions about societal expectations while subtly urging viewers to find their own definition of 'growing up'. An evocative journey through the complexities of contemporary maturity.
- Authentic portrayal of familial bonds and the challenges of modern adulthood.
- Successful blend of humor and emotion, resonating with many in the audience.
- Raises relevant questions about societal expectations of "growing up."
- Michael Cera's performance as Eric, capturing the nuances of a millennial grappling with maturity.
- Thoughtful exploration of nostalgia and the "lost utopia of childhood."
- Over-reliance on quirky humor, occasionally detracting from deeper narrative moments.
- Some emotional scenes, particularly in the climax, come across as awkward or unintentionally stilted.
- Limited demographic focus on white, suburban, young adults might not resonate with a broader audience.
- While the film balances charm and tension, certain moments lean too heavily into one, causing a potential imbalance in tone.