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Adults lets Cera grow up

Hot in the middle of success as a character in Barbie, actor Michael Cera headlines The Adults, a small, indie circuit film opening in theaters just as the blonde doll earns billion-dollar box office statis. From his days on television’s Arrested Development through Juno and other coming of age films, Cera regularly displays an intuitive grasp for catching the turmoil of an underdog. He continues the trend as Allan in Barbie and as Eric in The Adults, a title that writer/director Dustin Guy Defa uses with a hint of irony. Defa’s story reunites three grown siblings with Eric returning home to upstate New York for a short visit. Despite charting their own grown-up paths, the trio almost immediately reverts to childish patterns, among them a penchant for singing, dancing, and voicing an odd mix of pretend characters. Cera and his co-stars Hanna Gross (of Mindhunter) and Sophia Lillis (from It) meet the challenge well enough with a showcase of fine performances; the problem comes because their characters’ enjoyment of pursuing the past amuses them rather than any audience. Granted, the routines serve as a break from the plot’s reliance on talk—lots of talk. Another break comes with the movie’s biggest plot device, Eric’s gambling addiction that leads to several poker games, which also rate low on the scale of intense visuals. Some action results, but for the most part The Adults meanders rather than grows, eventually ending up in a place that shows a degree of hope without much excitement.

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