She is winsome, witty and wounded, an elementary schoolteacher who comes from money.
He is brilliant, focused and neat, a good-looking guy who lives downstairs.
She is fresh off heartbreak but open to possibilities. He has lost his dad, but that's not why he can't make eye contact, why he's compulsively honest and why he prattles on about space.
"I talk too much when I get excited," he admits.
Might love be in the cards for Beth and Adam? It might be if you know your Hollywood romance formulas. Adam is As Good As It Gets with a dash of Rain Man — movie comfort food, but it still charms us through the familiar rhythms of its story.
The disorder in the way of this budding romance is Asperger's syndrome, "on the autism spectrum," the school principal tells Beth (Rose Byrne). "Mind blindness" is how Adam describes his inability to pick up social signals.
But something in Adam (Hugh Dancy) touches Beth. It's not quite pity and much more than curiosity. He struggles to grasp the concept of girlfriend. He takes coaching (Frankie Faison is an old friend who offers love lessons) and, in his own way, turns on the charm.
Byrne, of Knowing and TV's Damages, let's Beth's empathy rise out of her sense of humor. Beth indulges the tactless Adam because a guy who has turned his living room into a planetarium and who knows where the raccoons live in Central Park is magical. Dancy deftly plays Adam's inability to distinguish between dependency and love while picking up social skills from Beth — like the ability to tell a joke. She buys him chocolates.
"I'm not Forrest Gump, you know," he tells her.
Writer-director Max Mayer cut his teeth directing TV (Family Law). He hits his emotional marks and balances entertainment with a responsible treatment of Asperger's. Adam is all courtship montages set to music until it finds its brittle, realistic edge.
Adam doesn't like the unexpected, and neither does the movie. But Adam charms its way through obstacles, just the way a movie romance should.