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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 2/2/2010
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/2/2010
Hollywood loves to see characters overcome obstacles. For years, many of these movies featured characters who were physically or mentally challenged in some way. TV brought us movies of the week such as Bill and Like Normal People (two classics), while films such as Rain Man and Radio hit theaters. However, it seems that in the last decade, we've seen a decline in these movies. Have all of the stories been told, or is this a reflection of our more politically correct society? Bucking this trend is Adam, a film which looks at a relatively unknown impairment.
Hugh Dancy is the titular character in Adam, a 29-year old man who lives in New York City. Adam has Asperger's Syndrome, a condition similar to Autism. Those with Asperger's have difficulty with social functioning, as they avoid eye-contact and take everything literally. They also don't like change and follow strict routines. As the film opens, Adam's father has just died, and Adam finds himself living on his own for the first time. His only friend is Harlan (Frankie Faison), one of his father's old Army buddies. Things begin to change for Adam when Beth (Rose Byrne) moves into his building. She is a school teacher and aspiring author who is trying to put her old life behind her. Despite his odd behavior, she takes a liking to Adam and attempts to get him to come out of his shell. Surprisingly, her strategies work and Adam begins to take on a more "normal" existence. As Beth begins to develop feelings for Adam, she can't help but wonder if they could ever have a real relationship.
Adam is an interesting mixture of old and new ideas. First of all, I'm sure that there are many who aren't familiar with Asperger's, so this concept will seem novel to them. (However, if you watchThe Big Bang Theory, you may already be familiar with the idea that many of Sheldon's behaviors are very similar to Asperger's.) Based on what I know about the condition, the movie does a good job of depicting it, and Dancy is very good in his role. While it's idealistic that this character would be both handsome and highly intelligent, the little things (such as the need for routine and the lack of eye contact) are well done.
Something which doesn't seem very novel at first is the concept that a new person will come into the main character's life and learn about their condition/have an impact on them. We've seen this in so many other movies (again Bill and it's sequel Bill: On His Own are the pinnacle of this sort of film...why aren't they on DVD yet?) However, Writer/Director Max Mayer throws us a curve-ball with the romance angle. Typically in these films, the person who is mentally challenged falls in love with the "normal" person, who then has to let them down easy. But here, it's Beth who develops feelings for Adam, despite the protests of her parents. In him, she finds a man who will never lie to her and someone who she can take care of. This is sort of like Forrest Gump in reverse. The movie does hit a speed-bump when it comes to a sub-plot concerning Beth's Dad (Peter Gallagher) and his legal problems. Here, Mayer mistakenly takes a page from theSay Anything... playbook and introduces drama which really isn't necessary.
Again, some parts of Adam are idealistic, but overall, this was a satisfying film. I was especially impressed with the ending, which takes a turn which few will see coming, but is pleasing nonetheless. The movie was more serious than I had expected. Based on the trailer, I thought that this was going to be more of a comedy. And while the movie contains some funny moments, it is played very straight and takes an unflinching look at how those with Asperger's aren't always pleasant. Yes, some of it is cliched, but Adam harkens back to a time when filmmakers weren't afraid to make movies which were both challenging and heart-warming.
Adam has to be tired of macaroni and cheese by now on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. For this review, a special preview disc was viewed, so the following opinions may not reflect product available in stores. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only a fine sheen of grain at times and no defects from the source material. The image shows a notable amount of artifacting and there were times when walls seemed to be moving because of the amount of shimmering on the image. Colors were somewhat good, but drab in some shots. The image was never overly dark or bright. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The bulk of the notable effects occur during crowd or street scenes. Here, we got acceptable stereo effects and some nice surround sound effects. The subwoofer effects come into play during some heated scenes.
The Adam DVD contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Writer/Director Max Mayer and Producer Leslie Urdang. We next get an "Alternate Ending" which runs about 4 minutes and can be viewed with commentary by Mayer. This ending isn't all that different from the ending in the finished film. The DVD contains five DELETED AND ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 8 minutes and have optional commentary from Mayer. There are actually some interesting moments here, such as Adam trying to comprehend how a job interview works and a fight with Beth. "Creating Adam" (8 minutes) contains comments from Dancy and Byrne who discuss the characters and the story. In "Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School with Rose Byrne" (10 minutes) the actress fields questions and discusses the movie.
Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long