Despite an attractive cast and another example of counterprogramming from the summer's big releases, this offbeat romancer isn't benefitted with sharp, unsubtle direction and storytelling.
A mostly predictable Adam sincerely looks into how two strangers, one stranger than the other, can develop a meaningful bond.
The titular fellow, afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome, played by Hugh Dancy (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Evening), resides alone in a Manhattan apartment, continuing a sheltered existence after his father's passing. He has difficulty dealing with the world around him while employed for a toy company which produces microchips.
Rose Byrne of TV's "Damages" and 28 Weeks Later is the sweet, cosmopolitan Beth who moves into his building. The schoolteacher and aspiring writer of kids' books may be more than a new neighbor for someone with low empathy and a noticeable awkwardness, especially when it comes to the perception of others.
The path from friendship to romance for these two proceeds in a very crystal-clear, schematic manner as Beth really sees a truthfulness to someone her parents (Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving) aren't ready to accept. There also is personal baggage and incidents to follow which will place a burden on their special connection.
The emotions that Dancy and Byrne have the ability to resonate with those who understand the give and take of relationships; the learning process of letting down one's guard begins to take hold even if helmer and screenwriter Max Mayer strains to bring a careful cleverness and honesty to the proceedings. At some point, Adam's developmental disorder will have to be explained. One effective part in a rather mediocre whole has Adam showing Beth his planetarium.
Consequently, the explanations of this and other instances just doesn't strike the necessary wit and naturalness that something recent like the very winning Juno did. Adam doesn't think very highly of its audience or even its likeable cast due in part to its contrived, padded nature. Ultimately, it takes the easy way out in a distracting way with a courtroom sidestory concerning Adam's dad that puts what should be more central off the map to a degree.
Maybe Mayer should have stayed with his initial inclination as it appears it took some time to make what comes across as silly than something orchestrated with poignancy and humor. That's not to say that Dancy and Byrne don't have some nice, tender, and quirky moments together. And, Irving and Frankie Faison as a colleague and family friend lend a bit of honest, down-to-earth support. What could have been a deeper piece of dramatic cinematic along the lines of Awakenings and a lesser remembered Marvin's Room is too cute and deliberately stated even as it celebrates the joy of discovery and creativity.