Let me kick off this review of A.C.O.D by saying that I really enjoyed this movie. As a real live A.C.O.D, I found that it handled the subject matter with the perfect combination of comedic and dramatic moments. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that it hit a little bit too close to home at some points. I’m planning on making both my parents go see it, then asking them to pay my rent for the year. You know, when they’re at their guiltiest. However as much as I enjoyed it, I wish it hadn’t fallen into the classic divorce movie trap.
But before we discuss that, I must give the requisite spoiler alert. There will be spoilers for this movie AND for The Parent Trap. So take heed. Also take a ticket to get a life. Spoilers that don’t kill you only make you stronger. Anywho, back to the movie!
So here are the A.C.O.D basics. Carter’s (Adam Scott) a well-adjusted guy with a great job and a great girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He also has two parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) who went through a brutal divorce when he was a kid and haven’t really spoken to each other since then. He thinks that all his childhood trauma’s behind him until his little brother Trey (Clark Duke) gets engaged and Carter’s tasked with getting both of his parents to come to the wedding — and refrain from murdering each other. I’m with them up until this point. Any A.C.O.D understands the stress of having their parents in the same place. My family survived four bar mitzvahs and four high school graduations and I don’t use the word survived lightly.
But the movie takes a turn for the annoying cliche when Carter’s parents get back together. While this decision obviously turns Carter’s world upside down, his parents are all like, “well, we’ve always had chemistry and honestly, and we can’t really remember why we hated each other so much!” And even though it’s a move that’s played for laughs, it’s an offensive one for real live A.C.O.Ds. Not only because I thought we finally had a movie that understand our pains, but because it’s so incredibly unrealistic.
A.C.O.D is not the first divorce move to perpetuate the myth that divorced parents get back together after enough time passes. Parent Trap, That Old Feeling and most recently It’s Complicated have done the same exact thing in their movies. Just like A.C.O.D, they both make the point that the couple didn’t just break-up, but they went to war. In fact, in one movie, the war got so bad that they separated their identical twin daughters and raised them in different countries. It’s just completely unbelievable that parents who divorced each other under those terms would fall back in love so easily. I know having kids together bonds people for life, but once again, I’ll use my A.C.O.D card and say that if kids didn’t keep the parents together in the first place, then their continued existence won’t be enough to get them back together 20 years later.
Strangely enough, the only movie that showed divorced parents staying divorced is Mrs. Doubtfire. And considering that in between getting the divorce and the parents getting to a good place with each other, the father dressed up as a woman and served as his children’s nanny, I don’t think it’s the best example of a modern divorced family. So Hollywood, I challenge you to do better. To give us a movie that’s about a divorced family where the parents don’t magically forget why they divorced in the first place.