“A surprising amount of what follows is true” follows the opening titles of Adopting Audrey, the second feature film from director Michael Cahill. With a proclamation of such, the audience could be forgiven for expecting a rather zany and potentially astonishing story to follow. Whilst the idea of adult adoption (perfectly legal in the United States) is indeed unusual, the film itself is not and follows a well-trodden path.
Audrey is in her early thirties and not having a very good time. Let go from her call centre job and dumped by a guy she didn’t even like that much in the first place, she is also estranged from her family and has little human contact. Audrey spends her days watching videos of adorable animals on YouTube. One day the algorithm leads her from cute puppy adoptions to adult adoptions and soon Audrey decides that this is something that she could get on board with.
After a series of unsuccessful matches, Audrey meets couple Sunny and Otto. Sunny loves the idea of meeting someone new and introducing them into their family whereas her husband Otto is appalled by the idea. Still, an agreement is reached, and Audrey is ‘adopted’ for a six month test run. Audrey is able to break down barriers with Otto and a tentative father/daughter relationship begins to form.
Everything about Adopting Audrey is nice. The film is shot nicely, the storyline is nice and it all kind of floats along in a nice way. This niceness works to both the film’s advantage and unfortunately to its detriment. On the one hand, Adopting Audrey is an untaxing watch. It reminds the audience of well-meaning things like unlikely friendships and the family we choose and anyway who doesn’t want to watch a nice film?
On the other hand, it all feels a bit surface level and unfathomable. Audrey is devoid of a strong personality and whilst the audience is given basic reasons to why she might have decided to take this path, there is no depth to any of her actions. Is Audrey depressed? Is she a lost soul? Is she venturing into an abnormal situation because its an adventure? The resulting feeling is wondering what it is about her story that needed to be told – it’s not particularly funny, it’s not particularly sad and it’s not particularly enlightening. It just is.
In all fairness, none of this affects the performances which are good all round. Indeed it is Jena Malone’s central performance which probably keeps the audience engaged for longer than they might have originally been. Overall, Adopting Audrey is nice enough but ultimately forgettable.
Drama | USA, 2021 | 15 | 13th March 2023 (UK) | Digital HD | Central City Media | Dir. Michael Cahill | Jenna Malone, Robert Hunger-Bühler, Brooke Bloom, Will Rogers, Emily Kuroda