Centred around the concept of romance in the modern age, About Love. Adults Only is the sequel to the 2015 Russian comedy About Love. Like its predecessor, this is a portmanteau of misadventures on the streets of Moscow that wrestle with the idea of what it is to be happy and in love. In the midst of this sea of romance stands John Malkovich, playing a marriage counsellor who acts as an unofficial host to the onscreen antics. And what antics there are: there’s the woman who wants to escape her strict immigrant upbringing, the couple trying swinging for the first time, an actor who’s kidnapped for his sperm and, brace yourselves, a girl who urges her uncle to take her virginity!
Bright and colourful, About Love. Adults Only aims to be a bold and brassy take on the kind of films Richard Curtis can knock out in his sleep. However, for all its talk of modernity, Adults Only is surprisingly old fashioned. Take, for example, the tale of the newcomers to wife swapping, which not only seems to take a disparaging gaze at those who have such proclivities, but also problematically suggests they’ll drug people to get them into bed. Elsewhere, Malkovich talks about the perfection of coupledom and throws out statistics about the shocking rates of divorce across the globe. Yes, his words come to bite back in the final story, but it doesn’t stop the whole film feeling like the kind of stuff that’s ripped out of overzealous tabloids. It all feels like one big finger wagging lecture.
Speaking of comedy, whilst attempts at humour are made, Adults Only is a bland affair where jokes never really land and there’s a sense of simply trying too hard to make the audience laugh. Throw in some superlative musical numbers that overextend the length of the film, and what should be a light and breezy good time becomes a frustrating viewing experience.