Amy (Emma Roberts) is a naive college graduate who has set her sights on becoming a great poet. However, poetry doesn’t pay her bills so she begrudgingly takes a job in a local sex shop. Here she becomes friends with fellow shop assistant Alex (Evan Peters) who she comes to tell all her home truths to. One day she gets to meet her poetry hero Rat Billings (John Cusack) and offers to come and clean his house in exchange for him being her mentor. Billings, a recluse, accepts but soon learns that Amy is as bad at cleaning and she is at poetry.
Coming of age comedy dramas have been around for decades, so when making a new one there has to be a unique angle to make it stand out from those that have gone before it. Adult World’s setting in a sex shop is a very interesting and well throughout idea. As we try to find out feet during our twenties, sex is one of the foremost concerns on all our minds. In this film it is front and centre to the main character of Amy, she cannot escape the clutches of this so called smutty shop with its colourful inventory. Yet as the film progresses it does a very nice touch of showing how she has been influenced, and having her mind opened up, not just by poetry but also by sex.
The metaphors are plentiful in this film and those who have lived through this period of life already can clearly see a path developing, but the film makes a great attempt at keeping it light and fluffy even during the more downbeat and emotional moments. There are enough jokey moments here that we felt like we had laughed through most of Adult World. It also doesn’t over-rely on sex shop jokes or poetry crassness.
Outside of John Cusack, Adult World’s cast is a not very well known unless you watch some cult TV shows. Evan Peters does a wickedly dark and sarcastic turn as Alex. He keeps the film humours’ when needed. Cusack is a curmudgeonly abusive character that is both loved and hated, and it’s a not a stretch for him to play this role. But the entire film rests on Emma Roberts playing Amy. She is sweet, kind and rather cutesy. But she also has the style and poise to absolute make this film her own. She playfully toys with her life and her friends but is at best when partnering with Cusack as this bizarre odd couple
Adult World fits snugly into the indie coming of age drama genre, and whilst it doesn’t offer anything new, it is still an engaging watch thanks to a good story and an even better front cast.