Thursday, April 09, 2009

Adventureland Review

I have to admit I am a sucker for young love movies, especially those that are set back in the days when I was still young! Director Greg Mottola, who made the wonderfully raunchy ‘Superbad’, has hit a fresh, sweet and intelligent home run with this coming of age twenty-something comedy.

James (Jesse Eisenberg) a fresh college graduate, returns home for the summer of 1987, intent on touring Europe before heading off to New York and graduate school only to find that his father has been downsized, thus so has his European vacation (and possibly graduate school). James’ only choice is to find work and save money – being a journalism major – the only thing he seems qualified for is work at the local amusement park: Adventureland. It is here that James becomes a ‘Games*Games*Games’ barker, doing ‘The job of pathetic losers’.

The crew of Adventureland is a curious assortment of everyone we have ever or will ever grow up with. You have the owners of the park (Bill Hader & Kristen Wiig of Saturday Night Live) who immediately can tell that James is a games barker by just looking at him to Joel a pipe smoking agnostic who reveals to James all of the parks secrets. There is also James boyhood friend, Frigo, who insists on striking James in his most sensitive area every chance he gets. And then there is Em (Kristen Stewart of ‘Twilight’) the cute girl who works the other games booths; the attraction between James and Em is immediate.

The pleasure of Adventureland, aside from the smart dialogue, is watching the romance of James and Em grow and develop. Em is a troubled young girl and we feel for her – James is a one girl man, saving himself for the right girl; we can feel the destiny that they are to be together.

What is wonderful about Adventureland and what Mottola has done so well – is that we are drawn into this world so completely. Not a lot is happening – we are basically watching teens do what teens do. Their conversations feel real, their actions never seem scripted and we are drawn into the romance of James and Em because it reminds us of our first romance. Kristen Stewart has created a wonderful character in Em and I would dare anyone not to fall in love with her.

The soundtrack is stocked with great tunes from the 80’s that serve as a perfect backdrop for every situation within the film. If you are looking for another ‘Superbad’ you will be disappointed. This is more of a summer of love type movie – it is not without it’s raunchy humor – but it is not the non-stop raunchy of Mottola’s ‘Superbad’ – rather – this is more of an autobiographical look at one summer in Mottola’s life or just about anyone’s life who had to work a thankless job.

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