Adventureland (2009)

Is working at a fair that terrible?

Unable to afford the European vacation he’d dreamed of, recent college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) reluctantly takes a gig at a local amusement park, only to learn that the dead-end job is, in fact, excellent preparation for the real world.

This is the semi-biographical story from the director of Superbad, Greg Mottola, and I must say that this guy had some pretty bangin’ ass times back in his young days. Better than mine at least.

Some people may think of Superbad, and automatically anticipate raunchy jokes, crazy situations, and illegal things happening left and right, however, don’t be fooled because this is a lot more of a more subtle and sweet film than that. The comedy here is all about the timing of our youth and how so many times we find ourselves in the craziest of situations, and for the most part I laughed and had a good time.

The problem with this film is that there is way too much of that softness here. I liked the whole romantic comedy element to this film, but there were times where this film could have really hit the nail like Superbad, or plenty other teen comedies, but instead just wants to be sweet and do nothing really fun. I wish it captured more of the crazy parts of the summer as a teenager, rather than the more confusing and angsty times, although those are there too.

Many of the jokes were centered at the 80’s which I thought was kind of annoying, but I must say it did support a pretty awesome soundtrack. There’s a lot of those 80’s staples bands here like The Cure, The Replacements, Falco, but no other has more impact than Lou Reed who songs that are placed here, made me realize just how amazing he truly is. Every time I hear Pale Blue Eyes, I will always remember this film, and with good reason, because it’s an awesome song.

This is also a great ensemble that is used very well. Jesse Eisenberg caught his big break here as James Brennan. He is such a weiner here, but his awkward and geeky shtick really worked out for his character because it’s so easy to like him. Kristen Stewart was the big draw here, mainly for all those “Twiheads” out there. But she actually does a very good job at playing the very confused, but smart Em, who I don’t know why, starts to take a liking to James. Martin Starr is a guy everybody may know from Geeks and Freaks but he totally steals the show and livens the film up when it starts to drag. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig were downright hilarious as Bobby and Paulette, and just about every scene they have in the trailer, is the only time’s their in the actual film. But they are still hilarious so it’s all cool. Also, I liked Ryan Reynolds here as Mike, the dude who fixes the rides at the amusement park, and I don’t think amusement park fixers look like that. However, he’s still good.

Consensus: Adventureland has a nicer and sweeter tone than most teen comedies, and some fun in the script, but it doesn’t have as much as fun as I think it could have, and ultimately just feels forgettable, except for the memory of the awesome Lou Reed song.



    • I just think that it could have been funner, and a lot cooler than what it actually was. I don’t know, maybe I’m just picky. Thanks!

  1. Thanks for the comment on my Adventureland post, man. I think if, going into this pic, you were expecting a retread of Superbad (a really good movie), you might’ve been disappointed. Of course, when I think of this movie, I’m reminded more of Dazed and Confused or some of the best John Hughes pictures of the 1980s.

    While I think Dazed is a superior movie, there’s more than meets the eye in both Linklater’s and Mottola’s works. These aren’t just “party movies”–if that’s what you’re after (watching the “crazy parts of the summer,” as you say), watching Porky’s or Can’t Hardly Wait might be more gratifying. Even if there’s angst in Adventureland, I don’t think it’s overplayed to the point of saturation. The relationships formed (esp. between James and Em) are, I think, are well-developed and wholly believable.

    Anyway, I wasted enough of your time with my comment.

    Really dig your site. Also, I read your review of Dazed and Confused, and I think you got it exactly right. Check my review of Dazed out, too. It’s easily one of my favorite movies.

    • I had a good time with this film just nothing really special, and I wish it was more memorable other than a pretty good soundtrack. Thanks though, I’ll definitely check out your site though!

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