At just 23, Emma Roberts (“It's Kind of a Funny Story,” “The Art of Getting By,” “Celeste and Jesse Forever”) is about the same age her aunt Julia was when she shot to stardom with the iconic hit “Pretty Woman.” But times have changed, and in Emma’s latest rom-com — Scott Coffey’s “Adult World,” which premiered last year at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival — she plays not a hooker with a heart of gold, but a virginal Syracuse graduate.
Roberts is Amy, a post-collegiate aspiring poet who lives in snowy upstate New York with her parents; what she lacks in life experience she makes up for in pluck and aspiration. Her inability to be self-sufficient will feel familiar to a lot of 20-somethings, as today’s economy has created a state of delayed adulthood; coming-of-age so rarely happens at 18 anymore.
When Amy’s parents pull the financial plug on her dreams of fame and fortune as a poet (as if!), she is forced to find a menial job to pay the bills. She ends up at the titular adult video store, where she meets an array of colorful characters: John Cullum and Cloris Leachman, an elderly couple who aren’t afraid of a little PDA; Evan Peters, a stable, nice guy with hidden talents; and Rubia (a deliriously good Armando Riesco), a hairdresser/drag queen with, yes, a heart of gold.
Amy also discovers the work of Rat Billings (John Cusack), an alcoholic has-been writer. After some won’t-take-no-for-an-answer stalking, he reluctantly agrees to mentor Amy, while not-so-politely discouraging her from pursuing her dreams. Cusack’s whole performance is a sly wink at an audience that fondly remembers his oeuvre, and he’s still got it in spades.
We spoke to Emma Roberts during Tribeca last year about her generation’s fascination with fame and oversharing, John Cusack’s charms, and the frozen tundra of Syracuse. "Adult World" is open in limited release now.
"My character Amy... she's really neurotic, really high strung, has really good intentions, but leaves a trail of destruction behind her. She kinda has this ignorance to the real world."