Oct 16

“ACOD”: Adult Child of Divorced Parents “Helped” By Quasi-Therapist

Not to be confused with the real world’s ACOD, which for years has stood for the 12-step program Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families, the title of the new film A.C.O.D. stands for Adult Child(ren) of Divorce.

Co-written and directed by actual ACOD Stu Zicherman, the movie is officially described as follows:

A.C.O.D. follows Carter (Adam Scott), a seemingly well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce. Having survived the madness of his parents’ (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) divorce, Carter now has a successful career and supportive girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But when his younger brother (Clark Duke) gets engaged, Carter is forced to reunite his bitterly divorced parents and their new spouses (Amy Poehler and Ken Howard) for the wedding, causing the chaos of his childhood to return including his wacky therapist (Jane Lynch).

But is she really a therapist? It’s set up in the trailer:

So, ACOD Carter discovers when returning to Dr. Judith in the midst of a crisis that she wasn’t in fact his child therapist; actually, she was studying and writing about kids of divorce. And now that she’s seen him again, she decides she’s interested in doing a 20-year follow-up.

This is groundbreaking stuff, after all. “Do you realize you’re the least-parented, least-nurtured generation ever?,” asks Dr. Judith.

Although film critic Dan Callahan, rogerebert.com, disses Lynch’s character as “an oblivious and self-centered quasi-scientist who made big bucks out of telling his childhood story in a book and who now wants to make more money with a sequel,” that doesn’t mean she’s unimportant. Indeed, Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, gives Zicherman kudos for making Jane Lynch’s relationship with Carter a key ingredient of the film. “Lynch, less farcical than usual, speaks hilarious truths in her lightly hostile way.”

Claudia Puig, USA Today, agrees: “…(S)he imparts obvious truths like ‘I’ve always thought funerals should be about the person that died’ with an air of scholarly authority.”

Another key element of the movie’s plot is that Carter’s life adjustment isn’t what he thinks it is, which leads to an existential crisis and relationship problems.

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: “Carter is an expert at managing his own life; he’s just not so great at letting go and living it.”

A conclusion from Manohla Dargis, New York Times: “…an unfunny comedy about a guy mooning over his parents’ divorce decades later, is so eager to please it’s hard to hate. But it’s sluggish even at 87 minutes, clichéd and gives you nothing of interest to look at other than some familiar faces.”

Sep 22

Therapeutic Letters: One Way to Communicate More Effectively

In her new memoir Happy Accidents Jane Lynch writes about the use of therapeutic letters.

Lynch speaks about the difficulty she had years ago coming out as a lesbian to her parents and how her therapist suggested writing them a letter. It was the fairly standard write-it/don’t-necessarily-send-it/maybe-you-should-show-it-to-me-first therapy thing.

Therapeutic letters are something I’ve not only suggested to clients many times but have also used personally. In fact, I did it for the very same reason Lynch did—over 30 years ago, I chose to come out to my mom this way. And like Lynch, when my letter was completed, I did decide to send what I’d written.

In my novel, Minding Therapy, the lead character Daryl has deep-seated issues with her mom and can’t get through to her. And her therapist suggests—you guessed it—that Daryl write her a letter. Daryl, who’s also a therapist, is surprised she didn’t think of it herself.

Following multiple revisions, Daryl is finally comfortable with her letter—and she sends it off without waiting to show it to Lauren, her shrink. Thus, when she does show it to her, she fears it may already be too late.

I read Lauren my copy of the letter and she seems to approve. But then, what else can she do now that it’s in the mail? She can’t very well say, No! That letter won’t do! Call the Post Office and have it intercepted at once! It’s going to kill her! And it’s badly written!

It does turn out okay in the end, of course. After all, letter-writing is awesome. It affords the sender a chance to say what she needs to say without being sidetracked by heated dialogue, and it affords the receiver a chance to think things through before responding. And thus, both parties can work together more effectively on their relationship.