It seems the big comedy trope these days (and has been for about a decade) is the screw-up-makes-good comedy, and now Kroll Show star Nick Kroll is getting in on it. Adult Beginners is his first starring vehicle, and it’s an almost-good showcase of his light drama sensibilities. The comedy fares better, but that’s probably because the drama itself is pat, predictable and underdeveloped. Plus, Kroll’s comic timing is perfect, even when the script isn’t.


Jake (Kroll) is an investor who loses his shorts—and lots of other people’s—in an ill-advised deal. Broke, he moves in with his older sister Justine (Rose Byrne, good as always) and brother-in-law Danny (the delightful Bobby Cannavale).


Justine and Danny have problems of their own (a three-year-old who needs daycare they can barely afford and another baby on the way), and Jake’s presence is, at first, helpful. He can watch the kid, and he can repair his relationship with Justine. But then the old family wounds bubble to the surface. Anyone with a sibling will identify, but the family drama seems tacked on in a way the comedy doesn’t. Good thing the comedy is pretty funny, then. The serious stuff doesn’t cut it.



Directed by Ross Katz

With Kroll, Byrne and Cannavale

CCA Cinematheque


91 min.