Mature farce about divorce has some hilarious bits.
  • Review Date: October 3, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Sometimes you have to fall apart to put yourself back together again. Also, you can't bury the past; it will rise up every time. You have to learn to accept it and not let it define you.

Positive role models

Carter is a good brother and a devoted son, but he's not very introspective -- at least at first, which ends up hurting others and himself. His parents are narcissistic and childish, though all that's played for laughs.


A mean verbal fight takes place in front of kids at a birthday party; more yelling and screaming takes place later; a house is accidentally set on fire.


A man is caught having sex in the kitchen; his backside is visible. (Viewers don't see much of the woman.) Some talk of sex, but nothing extremely graphic. Another couple starts to have sex in a different kitchen, but someone walks in on them before much clothing is shed.


Fairly frequent use of words including "f--k" and other derivatives (including "f--kface), as well as "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "butt," and "c--t."


Many products/labels/brands are seen, including Google, iPhone, Costco, Apple, U-Haul, Toyota, Nissan, and more.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An adult character is asked whether they want to get high. Social drinking. A woman is shown smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A.C.O.D. is a comedy about children who grew up with divorced parents. It definitely has bite and does deal with mature themes, specifically how kids fare when they're in a combative household that ends up in an acrimonious split. Parents bicker (and worse) in front of kids, and adults behave like children, with their kids having to clean up their messes. There's some sex talk, fooling around, and partial nudity -- a man's backside is glimpsed in the middle of what appears to be a sexual act -- as well as swearing (including "c--t" and "f--k"). Adults participate in social drinking; one smokes, and another is asked whether they want to get high.

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What's the story?

Carter (Adam Scott) is a peacemaker extraordinaire, a master at smoothing ruffled feathers at his restaurant and keeping tension at bay. That's because he's been learning on the job ever since he was a kid growing up with parents who fought loudly and incessantly, even at his birthday party. Divorced, his parents -- the philandering Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and decidedly un-touchy-feely Melissa (Catherine O'Hara) -- can't stand each other, but at least they're never around each other anymore. That is, until Carter's younger brother, Trey (Clark Duke), announces he's getting married (despite the fact that he's barely out of college and lives in Carter's garage). Carter tries to broker peace between his parents so they can attend the wedding together, but tensions bubble over when Carter discovers that he was the subject of a book about children of divorce written by a woman (Jane Lynch) he thought was his therapist when he was a kid. (His parents lied.) Now she's interested in a follow-up about A.C.O.D.s (adult children of divorce) after seeing who Carter has grown up to be.

Is it any good?


Adam Scott can sell nearly any joke, so prodigious are his talents and attuned his comic timing. Here, he's supported by a dream cast of all-stars, with Jenkins, O'Hara, and Amy Poehler (as Carter's dad's latest wife) as particular stand-outs. Scott works well in ensembles (exhibit A: TV show Parks and Recreation) and manages to tease out the humor in all possible situations, though he's a bit hampered by an overabundance of them here.

Sometimes it feels like A.C.O.D. is a sitcom translated for the big screen, with multiple characters writ large, devoid of dimension. (See: Jessica Alba as one of the A.C.O.D.s.) And funny as they may be, Carter's parents push the envelope of being abominable, so much so that you almost can't laugh at their insanity. But, as with people, few movies have no issues. A.C.O.D., thankfully, has ones we can live with.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about A.C.O.D.'s take on divorce and how it impacts both children and adults. Does it seem realistic?

  • How does the movie compare to past cinematic takes on broken marriages and their effect on kids? Does the movie show any alternatives to an acrimonious divorce?

  • How does the movie depict sex? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on this subject.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 4, 2013
DVD release date:January 14, 2014
Cast:Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Jane Lynch, Richard Jenkins
Director:Stuart Zicherman
Studio:Black Bear Pictures
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and brief sexual content

This review of A.C.O.D. was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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