About Adam (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Two thumbs up - well, not up toward the heavens, but not down, either. 

Scoopy's comments in white

Cameron Crowe definitely gets a big assist on this one.

You see, this was another one on the seemingly endless list of pretty good movies that can't get any distribution. It made the rounds at the film festivals, picked up some good notices, then faded into limbo. It was not "blockbuster" mass-audience material, and the target market is not immediately identifiable.

Then the redoubtable Mr Crowe made "Almost Famous", Kate Hudson became at least a second-magnitude star, and people started to look around for ways to capitalize on that. Voila! Here's the movie she made just before Almost Famous and, as a special bonus, she seems to be channeling her famous mom through the filter of an Irish accent (Well, sort of. Kate is not likely to challenge Streep or Zellweger in the rodeo event for accent impersonatin', but she did OK. Kate uses the Mel Gibson method, in which a ton of charm covers up almost any acting flaw.) 


Kate Hudson's left breast is seen in a cleverly filmed rooftop lovemaking scene.
Why wasn't it marketable? It's a movie centering on a man who behaves as a complete scoundrel on the surface, yet is a completely nice person. 

Here's the set-up. Kate Hudson meets, romances, and proposes to her shy boyfriend, Adam. He seems like the ideal guy, so sensitive. He even has those sensitive stories, like Joey's "Backpacking through Europe" story from Friends. The first 15 minutes of the movie takes us from before they met to her proposal. (Yes, HERS)

Then the story begins again. Several times, in fact. And each time we see how Adam is simultaneously romancing and seducing Kate's sisters, her sister-in-law, and even her brother. And every time Adam has a new version of the backpacking story to suit the target of his seduction! He becomes whatever the women want him to be. (His own personal story is actually about how he came to own a Jaguar)

The movie's POV screws us over. At first we really like Adam and are happy for Kate, then we despise the way he is playing everyone, and finally we come around to liking him again, when we see that he has done no harm, and maybe a lot of good. He really loves Kate, and the sisters are also happier than they were before they met him. In fact, he is a guileless guy who just wants to make people happy. (Tough acting role, and the kid who played Adam did good)

It's a cute enough movie, and it's good to see a story about Ireland without the clichéd treatments of alcoholism and prayer and poverty, but you can see why they thought it wouldn't play in Peoria. It's just blatantly amoral. Sweet, forgiving, and positive, but amoral. The women who will be likely to love the romanticism of it may not be comfortable with their dream man screwing all their sisters one by one. The distributors were right, it had no mass market appeal and bombed in its trial run, despite some good notices (81% positive reviews, 7.5 at IMDb). But at least it got a chance. 

It is witty and intelligent, the comedy is timed well, and Kate Hudson provides much of the musical score with her own renditions of Gershwin and Cole Porter standards. It's a pleasant little movie, with a skewed outlook. I like that. 

It isn't a world-beater, but put it on the scoreboard, and credit the assist to Cameron Crowe. 

Tuna's comments in yellow

The first thing you need to know is that About Adam isn't about Adam. It is about Kate Hudson, her two sisters, and her mother. 

Kate, who has gone through boyfriends as often as most women change underwear, meets Adam, who is a really nice guy, genetically predisposed to fulfilling women. Before he is done, he will perform as advertised for Kate, both of her sisters, and her mother, actually becoming intimate with both sisters.

Think Run Lola Run meets son of Something about Mary. This film uses an increasingly popular narrative structure of telling the same story three times from different perspectives. The first example I am aware of was Rashomon (1950). With Run, Lola, Run, the technique became as popular as  bottled water. Adam is much like Mary, in that he is completely irresistible, and does what he does, being mostly unaffected by how others react. We are manipulated by the director into loving him, then hating him, then loving him again.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • brief behind-the-scenes featurette

It is an ok romantic comedy, other than the fact that we get to see it  three times in 105 minutes, so there is really only about 45 minutes of  plot. An Irish production shot in Dublin, I enjoyed the Irish accents, and  much of the scenery was charming. Kate had a brief scene where she exposed one breast, and spent the rest of the film being charming. A real plus for me was the music. Kate actually "sold" such tunes as Gershwin's The Man I Love, Cole Porter's You Do Something to Me, And Sammy Kahn's All the Way. 

Other classic ballads included Irving Berlin's "Sisters" from White Christmas, sung by Peggy Lee. Scoopy liked this better than I did. I  suspect that he isn't as tired of the baseball (1, 2, 3 strikes) narrative structure as I am. Still, with the great tunes and nice photography, I will  give a C+.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half. Evening Standard 3/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, BBC 3/5.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 81% positive.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.5
  • With their dollars ... it did about half a million dollars in the UK, and $150,000 in the USA.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+ from both reviewers. Certainly not a typical romantic comedy, and not a great one, but a pretty good one.

Return to the Movie House home page