Saturday, 26 September 2020
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 19:51
adventurelandposterMy selection of movies opening this week was limited, but sometimes that ends up being a good thing. It can force me to open my eyes to movies that I might not otherwise have bothered with. In this case my options were between the fourth installment of Fast and Furious or a teen comedy that I really didn’t have very high hopes for. Since drag-racing and noisy cars have never been my thing I chose the teen comedy Adventureland and it was a surprising treat!

Adventureland takes place in the mid 80’s and brought back a lot of memories… good memories with a bad and lasting effect on the world of fashion. Those tacky, dangly heart-shaped earrings; super baggy T’s; acid wash jeans; feathered hair… it’s like a journey through my elementary school year books. The film also boasts a killer soundtrack that represents the era while being surprisingly timeless. It features both major and more underground artists including David Bowie, The Cure, INXS, Lou Reed, Hüsker Dü and The Velvet Underground. I know it will likely become a staple in my iPod!

The story centers around a group of college kids with some pretty big dreams, dreams they cannot realize without a summer job to pay the bills. James (Jesse Eisenberg) thought he had it made with an all expenses paid trip to Europe for the summer as a graduation gift, and university in NYC in the fall. But when his father gets demoted his parents have to revoke their gift and he is forced to take a lame job at Adventureland, a somewhat decrepit local amusement park. There, he meets and falls for Em (Kristen Stewart), a girl whose contemplative nature intrigues him. Over time James realizes that his “wasted summer” in Adventureland might have been the best life experience he could have.

adventurelandpic1Greg Mottola who directed Superbad brings the same fresh energy to this project, but with a lighter, more subdued touch. He wrote this semi-autobiographical film and opts to focus more on character development and emotion rather than rely too heavily upon slapstick humor. It’s still very funny, but you really get a sense that these kids are at pivotal points in their lives. This one summer will determine the course of their future and what they are experiencing will leave a lasting effect. I was happy to see the focus put on a slightly older age group than it has been in movies like Superbad or Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. These are young 20-somethings - not junior high or high school kids - so the fact that they are going to bars isn’t accompanied by the distracting thought of why they aren’t getting carded.

adventurelandpic2The cast is very strong, especially Jesse Eisenberg as James. He’s got some of that geek-chic charm that oozes out of Michael Cera, but with a wide variety of roles under his belt including films such as Roger Dodger, The Squid and the Whale, and The Hunting Party. Kristen Stewart is now one of the biggest names in young Hollywood after snagging the coveted role of Bella in Twilight. She is quite good as Em and definitely shows charm and potential. It will be interesting to see what she does next as her characters to date have been somewhat one-note and somber. Ryan Reynolds plays the park repairman who is cheating on his wife with the younger girls that he works with. His character is kind of pathetic really, an overgrown man-child who isn’t content with the way his life has gone. Many of the best comedic moments are captured by SNL alumni’ Kristen Wiig and a mustachioed Bill Hader. They play the park owners who take running the business very seriously.

I had a lot more fun at Adventureland than I was expecting. This movie is a surprising little gem.