I can't print the complete first line of Philip Larkin's famous poem "This Be the Verse" in the newspaper, but the gist: They mess you up, your mum and dad, and, to quote, "They may not mean to, but they do./They fill you with the faults they had/And add some extra, just for you."
The crisp comedy A.C.O.D. - an acronym for "adult children of divorce" - cleverly affirms the English poet's sage sentiments. Carter (Adam Scott) is a grown-up guy with a successful restaurant business and a smart, grounded girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But when it comes to dealing with his mother (Catherine O'Hara) and father (Richard Jenkins), who have been divorced for 15 years and won't even stay in the same room together now, well, all the old ugliness comes back and rattles Carter to his core.
Unfortunately, his much younger brother, Trey (Clark Duke), is about to be married, and he would like his parents present for the ceremony. Carter is assigned to smooth things over with Mom and Dad, but the process gets emotional - he needs some counseling, and revisits the woman he thought was his therapist when he was a kid and his parents were just splitting up. It turns out Dr. Judith (a deliciously self-approving Jane Lynch) is a writer - she interviewed the young Carter as part of her study on children of divorce. But she's happy to hear Carter out, and coin a few catchphrases while she's at it.
Directed by Stu Zicherman (and cowritten with Ben Karlin), A.C.O.D. offers a wily screwball investigation into the relationships between warring spouses, the progeny ducking the bullets, and the assorted new wives (enter Amy Poehler), husbands, and offspring that come along. Scott shows a winning mix of deadpan calm and absolute apoplexy as the sideswiped son, and his fellow cast members make this modest little film feel a lot bigger by their deft and nuanced performances. Watching Jenkins and O'Hara go at it (in more ways than one) is especially terrific fun.