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There will be a backlash against "Adventureland", or at least a
disappointed reaction from some. The reason being that the film was
marketed as another raunchy-sweet comedy from the Apatow empire, when
in fact it has almost nothing to do with those films, and is very
different from most of writer/director Greg Mottola's previous film
"Superbad" (which is great in its own way, but it's nothing like this
film). It is a tender, intimate romance surrounded by goofball humor,
but the extent of the 'dirty jokes' in this movie is Jesse Eisenberg's
character James getting out of the pool at a house party with an
The movie is a sentimental (not sappy, mind), very personal, journey through the summer of 1987 for recent college grad and deep thinker James Brennan (played superbly by Jesse Eisenberg), whose plans for the summer fall apart (due to Reaganomics affecting his father's income) resulting in him having to get a crappy job at the titular amusement park. There he meets Em, played by Kristen Stewart, and the romance, which is the focus of the film, begins. This is very, very far removed from the slob-meets-babe formula common in comedies in recent years. James is a virgin, true, a 22 year old one at that, but that has far more to do with the character's tentative nature than any 'quest' to get laid (ala "The 40 Year Old Virgin", which works on its own terms of course, but is again nothing like "Adventureland"), and he is far from bad looking. Em isn't a dolled-up 'hot chick' with perfectly styled hair and perfect style, she's moderately well-dressed and naturally beautiful, but wears makeup in a grand total of two scenes, and is actually NOT the 'babe' in the film (that's Margarita Levieva as Lisa P, who, though the 'babe', is not the sought-after one).
I am finding it hard to describe exactly why I loved this film as much as I did, but I think it mostly comes down to subtle, wonderful writing by Mottola, who was obviously telling a personal story here and did a great job of it. The screenplay is a funny, poignant take on post-collegiate angst and love, with some elements of social satire, and its focus is one of the most memorable and wonderful romances in quite some time. This romance makes Stewart's breakthrough hit "Twilight" seem even more offensively dumb, because of just how real it is.
Mottola, who absolutely nailed "Superbad" as a director, does even more with "Adventureland". His work with the actors is perhaps most notable. Bill Hader does what he did in "Superbad" and Matt Bush plays a slapstick role as Tommy Frigo, but everyone else is given more emotional poignancy and range to work with. Ryan Reynolds has abandoned his trademark smarmy shtick for a straight role in the film. As noted by Nathan Rabin in his review of "Adventureland", in a lesser film Reynolds (a failed attempt at a 'rock star' who is in an unhappy marriage and is having an affair with Em, and who is a loser to everyone but the deadbeats younger than him at the amusement park) would be a villain, James Brennan's adversary in a typical love triangle. In "Adventureland" he's a real person, and a rather tragic character. Not a nice guy, not a bad guy either. Martin Starr is great in the main supporting role as Joel. Mottola's direction is fantastic visually as well, with every scene brimming with intensity when it needs to be and the comedic timing again excellent. His use of music is absolutely spot-on, and if you thought the funky greatness of the "Superbad" soundtrack was good wait until you hear this low-key but incredible soundtrack made up almost entirely by great 80's pop songs (and not the mainstream garbage). Great musical score by Yo La Tengo as well.
The film is ultimately such a massive success I think due to Kristen Stewart. I knew she was a capable actress but did not know that she was this terrific. She is transformed into Em for the entirety of the film, and is overwhelmingly intense for the entirety of her performance, whether the raw (but not even close to raunchy) sexuality of her scenes with Eisenberg (and boy do they have a rare sort of chemistry) or the understated sadness of her scenes with Reynolds. Eisenberg and Stewart are so wonderfully understated with their performances that their romance feels realer than anything I've seen since Zooey Deschanel and Dan Schneider in David Gordon Green's "All the Real Girls". This might be a familiar journey but the treatment of Reynolds' character is only one thing Mottola does different from the John Hugheses of the world. Everything about this film is just more real and more understated than so much of what we've seen done with similar things.
The film has one or two scenes where plain lust is the focus, and absolutely none where the movie becomes about sex jokes. That James is a virgin is a side note, part of the character and nothing more. It couldn't be less about James wanting to bed Em, it couldn't be more about him being totally in love with her. Although critics are falling over themselves to praise the film (89% on RottenTomatoes at the time I'm writing this and a score in the high 70's on Metacritic) some have called it 'ordinary'. Perhaps much of the public will agree with that minority of the critics, but the film thrives on capturing 'ordinary moments'. The simple beauty of James, Em, and Joel watching fireworks on the 4th of July or a marijuana-fueled bumper car round scored to "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure. That's what this film is about. It's wonderful, it's beautiful, and if it's not a sleeper hit this year then it will eventually become a cult classic. It's something special, that much I know for sure.
Do you know that feeling you get when you've been lied to about a
movie. A while back when In Bruges came out, the trailers pitched the
movie as a wacky, Guy-Ritche-esquire, comedy with midgets and whores.
Imagine the surprise of most of the movie goers when they went to see
this film, and it turns out to be a very dark comedy, written about a
suicidal hit man who is know facing regret and depression in the worst
vacation spot ever. This feeling of surprise can sometimes make or
brake how a movie is received for some people. Most of the time the
audience will walk out of the film thinking that they've been lied to
just so they will have payed for a ticket and other times the audience
realizes that, if the movie wasn't pitched to them as this picture that
they've seen before, they wouldn't have seen the film in the first
This is how I felt when I left Adventureland. Let me get this out of the way, Adventureland is NOT A COMEDY. I know the trailers pitch it as one, the director says it's one, and under the genre section of IMDb it says 'Comedy. But, this film, honestly, has two jokes in it, most of them supplied by Bill "By God You're In Everything Aren't You?" Hader. I'm not saying that this film only has two jokes in it like there are a lot of jokes in here but they're not funny. I'm saying that they're are only two jokes. Yes, Adventureland was pitched to us a romantic teen comedy about a horrible summer job but instead the film is a romantic drama that focuses on 21+ year old, coping with the fact that life is in fact full of sour lemons and you need to take a horrible job because it's the only thing you can do. I too was surprised that Adventureland wasn't a comedy but once you get past that, the film is actually very enjoyable and turns out to be one of the most intimate romance films on the same scale as 'Once.'
The film centers around the double named protagonist, Brennan James. Who is a couple thousand short of the money he needs for his trip around Europe as well as the first couple months rent for when he starts going to school in NYC. His parents inform him that his dad has been demoted and he's gonna have to pay for the money himself. The only job that is still hiring is the seedy amusement park Adventureland where all of the employees do nothing but talk about how much their job sucks, smoke weed and get drunk during their shifts. Brennan-James falls in love with the smart-dangerous girl, Em. But due to his drug connections, the hot girl of the theme park starts to become attracted to him. A love triangle turns into a square, then a hexagon and soon just a big pile of mess.
The film itself could go for a very whimsical style here due to the amusement park setting but because of the directors previous works (Freaks and Geeks and Superbad) he decided to go for a super-realistic approach. I also feel like he chose to direct this drama because he wanted to expand himself as a director. The direction itself is pretty subtle, which is for the best. I was really engrossed in the script itself and I felt like any "special" work the director put in it might have taken me out of this twenty-something romance story.
The story is a very good one. This too goes for the extremely realistic approach. Watching this film I remembered all of the times I had experienced something like this with a girl and that's when I realized that the film had totally sucked me in. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen to Brennan and Em and once their relationship hit a couple of big rocks I remembered all of the times I had nearly ruined my relationships by doing something stupid. (i.e. listening to my penis and not my brain)
I was worried about the acting at first, it has a newbie as the lead and the twilight girl as his love interest. Not to mention Ryan Renolds playing a mentor figure, one that is a couple of cockiness points away from being the one in Waiting. However the director must have worked his magic with these three because they display some of the best performances I've seen in a while. They emote, they repress, they do everything a real person does in a relationship to the degree where their characters are so well developed your rubbing your eyes in disbelief like some kind f college screwball comedy. Then again, realism seems to be the thing Adventureland seems to do be going for.
This film is trying to grab the attention of the forty-somethings that were twenty-somethings in 1980 by making the most realistic nostalgia trip I've ever seen. The costumes seem like they're right out of value village, the dialog seems like you could have said it today and the acting makes the characters seem as if they're real people.
If feel that Adventureland wasn't pitched to the audience as a dramatic look at young love during the backdrop of the late 1980's because in the latter part of this decade, the only way young people are willing to look at the 1980's is through the eyes of irony. Looking at hot new styles as stupid idiotic fashion choices. Adventureland looks past all of that and makes a film that seem to be a grown up Sixteen Candles and because of this new approach to a beaten down idea, I not only applaud this movie but recommend it to people who have been looking for something new.
"Adventureland"- ***1/2 BY: Kevin Muller The marketing for this film is
terrible, just absolutely awful. The studio is pushing this film as the
next "Superbad", just because the director of that film directed this
gem. The truth is, this is far different than "Superbad", besides a few
gross out gags. Where that film prided itself on its crudeness and
vulgarity, this film prides itself on heart and pure emotion.
"Adventureland" has the feel of teen movies both from the 80's and 90's (more the 80's though). You have a sensitive character who is still trying to figure out who he is, and by a sequence of events, falls in love and more importantly, finds his true self. What makes the movie even more appealing is that it not only doesn't treat its characters as generic stereotypes, but as humans, which makes them more appealing to the audience.
Our main character here is James (played perfectly by Jessie Eisenberg) who has just graduated college and is looking forward to his trip to Europe with his fellow pal. The trip is not only supposed to be his graduation present, but also a way to escape his recent heartbreak, due to an emotional breakup. Things unfortunately go south with his finances, which forces him to get a job at the local amusement park. There he meets some interesting people: the two owners (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), nerdy Joel (the likable Martin Starr) and the beautiful "Em" (Kristen Stewert).
James and Em quickly fall for each other, but there is one small problem, she is in a very dysfunctional relationship with Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who plays the married park maintenance guy. Reynolds, who usually adds the goofy humor to every film he is in, holds back to really give the character a deepness that I was surprised he pulled off. I thought his performance was going to be similar to his Monty character from "Waiting". I applaud the restraint that he held throughout the film, because the character could have gone down that route very easily.
What makes this film work though is that director Greg Mottola doesn't overdo any aspect of the movie. The comedy, drama, and situations are all well balanced, which makes the film feel real. As I stated before, Reynolds is grounded, as is the rest of the cast with their performances. Eisenberg, who is accused of playing Michael Cera, gives a very layered and human performance. I am sorry to you Cera fans, but the awkward and caring guy thing was around way before Cera did it. Stewert, is just perfect in this role, she gives Em vulnerability, but makes her lovable at the same time. These two give perfect performances because neither of them have all the answers and it is about the deep connection they share, not just about the sex.
Go see this film, it deserves to be seen. This is a movie that Hollywood doesn't make anymore; a sweet, smart, moving and humorous experience that hopefully starts a chain of movies like it to follow.
I can honestly say that I haven't seen as good a movie as this in a
long time. Most of the characters you can relate to in some kind of way
or you may possibly know someone who is similar to them.
This movie was definitely advertised wrong; it seemed as though it was going to be a crude but funny comedy like superbad only there was a hell of a lot more seriousness and romance involved.
Kristen Stewart who plays Em Lewin does a fantastic job of showing multiple emotions in a single expression. Anyone who claims she can't act must not have seen this.
Jesse Eisenburg playing James also does very well in being one of those smart, funny, intellectual types who at the same time doesn't talk down to people in a condescending way.
And may I say bravo to Bill Hader and Kristen Wigg who had just the right comedic timing. Martin Starr also did surprisingly well as someone who knew where his place was in the world.
Adventureland has the right balance of drama and comedy so you're never left feeling bored. This movie will continue to be one of my favorites probably for years to come.
I saw this movie at The Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City and I've been wanting to see it for months but I have a habit of anticipating movies and building them up, then once I see them I am disappointed. This was not the case. It is a lot like Superbad set in the 80's and minus the drawings. The quirky, awkward humor is there, the teen party humor is there, the love humor is there. One thing this movie has that Superbad didn't though, is a truly heart felt and believable love story that gives Adventureland a bit of a more serious tone. While it is hilarious it also has you really pulling for the young lovers and gets you involved in their affairs. With out giving too much away, all I can say is 'Go see this movie. If you liked Superbad, you'll like Adventureland, if you hated Superbad, you'll like Adventureland. It's a win-win situation.'
'Adventureland' is a melancholy voyage into the grey zone between
adolescence and adulthood, school and career, lust and relationships,
frivolity and responsibility. That is to say it is not 'Superbad' and
Upon graduating, comparative literature major James Brennan is informed that due to his father's recent demotion (alcoholism is an implied cause), the parents will not be funding his planned and hopefully transformative European vacation. James returns to his parents' Pittsburgh home with virginity and intellectual pretensions intact.
Still planning on attending Columbia Journalism School and needing funds, James seeks summer employment and settles for a job as a game both operator at Adventureland, a local amusement park that has seen better days. He is after all a comp lit major and not even qualified for manual labor.
Of course Adventureland is more than meets the eye. We're introduced to the interior lives of park employees. Extremely powerful performances are provided by Jesse Eisenberg, Martin Starr, Margarita Levieva, Ryan McFarland, and especially Kristen Stewart as James's sort of girlfriend Em.
These are not stock characters (with the exception of the ballbusting Frigo character, put here for childish laughs). The characters are emotionally and behaviorally complex. They wrestle with what it means to be young (or not so young) what it is to be in a relationship, the meaning of sex, employment, violence, drug use, fidelity, intellectualism, relationships with parents and their new spouses, the value of education. In short, what it means to be a person.
To enhance its verisimilitude, the film is mostly set to mid eighties tunes (Expose, The Mary Jane Girls, etc.). These songs are of the mid-eighties, but the film is set in 1987. It's a slight jab at the less than cutting edge nature of Pittsburghian society circa 1987. No matter, the film does not ridicule the zeitgeist. Rather, it takes seriously the emotional resonance of the sex, the music, the clothes, the hair, the ganja, the drinking, and the want to all involved (it was serious) and in so doing achieves poignancy.
The film touched me and not just because I was almost James's age living not too far from Pittsburgh in 1987, but because it addresses what it means to be on the shaky cusp of adulthood in such an honest way. A must see.
Adventureland is one of the best teenage films I have ever seen. I almost am upset by the advertising plan and budget the film had because if it was given enough commercial advertisement it would've been as successful as Superbad. Sadly this film went under the radar and wasn't given the acclaim it deserved. As a teen exploitation film, this movie accurately describes, interprets, and expresses the mind of a teenager and incredibly gives any teenage viewer a sense of closure. Because unlike Superbad, the characters in Adventureland are easy to relate to and are more vulnerable in an emotional sense. Anyone who sees this film to relax and enjoy a bit of comedy with a heartfelt story, or to reminisce about their teenage years, their first jobs or their personal time at Adventureland, or even to watch a teenage love story will get what they were looking for.
While watching this movie, it wasn't clear if this was supposed to be a
comedy or a drama, so it's difficult to put this into a category. It
was funny and sad, so I'd classify it as a comedy/drama.
The movie takes place in the 1980's and the main character is forced to take a job a Pittsburgh area amusement park called "Adventureland" so he can save enough money to attend graduate school. While his parents feel the job is beneath his college degree qualifications, it's the only job he can find so he takes it, and ends up working the game show booths. While working there, he meets Kristen Stewart, and they develop a romantic relationship, which takes up a large chunk of the movie. Kristen, incidentally, seems to be playing the same exact character she played in "Twilight", wounded and needy.
Based on the trailers, I was expecting something along the lines of "Superbad" but the movie was a lot closer to "Dazed & Confused", a well written period piece of the 1970's. The comedy aspect of the movie was in the interactions with his friends, parents, co-workers, and supervisors. There weren't a lot of LOL moments, but the humor is more in identifying with the characters and their lives.
I enjoyed the movie and anyone living or growing up during the 1980's will appreciate the mood & music of the film.
And I loved this movie.
I grew up in the '80s, and have always had a fondness for the decade. So much so that I've always thought that if I ever manage to write a screenplay, it will probably be set in that era. Until today, I hadn't seen a movie set in the '80s that I really loved, unless it was made back then. I learned to love movies in the '80s, and this one felt like it could easily have been made back then. It isn't like other '80s retro films that hit you over the head with winks and nods to the quirks of that era. You won't see anyone trying to solve a Rubik's Cube while doing the moonwalk in a pair of parachute pants and saying "totally rad."
You also won't see a Superbad retread (people have complained that the ads are misleading). There's lots of great laughs, but it comes mostly from subtle situational moments, not in-your-face punchline dialog. This is a character driven movie, and Jesse Eisenberg really shines in a very likable performance as the geekish underdog out to win the heart of the cool and beautiful but angst-ridden Kristen Stewart.
Most of the performances are wonderful, but the writing is what truly makes this movie great. Some of the most memorable moments involve the dark side of amusement parks. The real Adventureland park, where writer/director Motolla once worked, can't be too happy with this film. I imagine they might want to sue, if only that wouldn't bring even more news and attention to the shenanigans that occur there. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but "shenanigans" is putting it kindly.
The '80s was the decade where coming-of-age dramedies blossomed with great soundtracks, and Adventureland pays off in that regard as well.
Motolla himself has warned: "I hope people who grew up in the '80s don't assume it's not for them." Those who are expecting another raunchy teen romp like Superbad may be disappointed. These "kids" are probably old enough to drink legally, though that doesn't appear to be their drug of choice. This movie has more in common with Almost Famous and Outside Providence than it does with Superbad, and not just because it's semi-autobiographical. Though the humor isn't quite as prevalent as it is in Superbad, I found the laughter that it did evoke to be far more satisfying.
So I saw "Adventureland" at an advanced screening and I found it to be quite entertaining and funny with a certain "real & genuine" vibe. It takes place in the mid-80's and involves a college grad played by fairly newcomer, Jesse Eisenberg who takes a job at a local amusement park to save money in hope to go to New York. Though the job maybe dreary; he finds himself having the best time of his life. I personally loved how director, "Greg Mottola" incorporated a few clever sequences one involving "weed cookies" which just made it diverse to other teen comedies. The music was typical 80's which also made the movie that much more fun! I particularly loved "Lou Reed." All in all the story and characters were enjoyable to watch and you can truly find yourself relating to them. It may not compare to movies such as "Superbad" comedy wise because it is much more of a semi "dark humor" type reminiscent to "Juno." Genuinely speaking, I personally really enjoyed this movie and would actually see it again with friends at the theater for a good time, which I can't say I would for the majority of other teen comedies out there.
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