Budding poet and cloistered suburbanite Amy (Emma Roberts) is about to go the way of her idol Sylvia Plath, though death by gas oven doesn’t seem quite right. Maybe suffocation by plastic bag will do. What could possibly have led our heroine to this terrible state? Scott Coffey’s refreshingly sharp-edged (except when it isn’t) black comedy quickly flashes back a year to the time when our protagonist, fresh out of college and $90,000 in student-loan debt, started pursuing a career in verse.
She has her sights set on a mentor, the washed-up Rat Billings (a brilliantly smug John Cusack), but cash isn’t exactly flowing in. Thank heavens for that help wanted sign in an adult-video store window, wherein Amy—after fending off a vibrator-in-the-face greeting from property owner Cloris Leachman—will learn some much-needed life lessons from adorable manager Alex (Evan Peters).
The story beats are as familiar as they come, and there are a few halfhearted stabs at redeeming Roberts’s clueless character when it would have been better to push her feeble-mindedness to Anna Faris–esque extremes. Coffey still keeps things moving at a fleet pace and gets consistently good work out of his performers, especially Armando Riesco as Amy’s transgender bestie who hilariously refuses to get pulled into the privileged girl’s discombobulated orbit.
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