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Thoughts on "Adventureland" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, April 06, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee or rental. 'Adventureland' is an enjoyable, low-key comedy or more accurately, a "dramedy," that fits well into a matinee showing, however, it would be an even better rental.

Will I Own It On DVD: Doubtful. That being said, if I could find it for $9.99 or under sometime, I would be strongly tempted to bring it home.

1) Set in the summer of 1987, 'Adventureland' takes a look at one summer spent inside the confines of a 3rd-rate amusement park where a recent college graduate finds himself working to save money for graduate school once his plans for a European back-packing trip falls through. This simple premise serves as a fine backdrop for the exploration of traditional issues like friendships and relationships, drinking and drugs and finding whatever path works for you, all set to a never-ending repeat of the insidiously addictive yet vaguely annoying 80s song "Rock Me Amadeus."

2) The ads for 'Adventureland' have played up the connection with the popular hit movie 'Superbad' as both films share the same director. I understand why the marketing team would try to sell it this way, but where 'Superbad' was loud and broad, this film is small and intimate and relaxed without ever being forceful in its depiction of teenage/early 20s life. Due to this fact, it feels more "real" than 'Superbad,' which doesn't necesesarily mean better, just that the tone is markedly different and anyone expecting holdover from that film will be sorely disappointed and somewhat bored with 'Adventureland.'

3) One thing the film absolutely nails is the time period of the late 80s. You can tell that the filmmakers paid strict attention to detail, and the project is much better for it. From the fashion to the music to the hair-styles and everything in between, 'Adventureland' serves as a good time capsule for that era. Where it excels, however, is that is treats these stylistic items very matter-of-factly, a choice which takes it beyond some movies where it feels like an ironic affectation or simply kitsch.

4) The cast is led by Jesse Eisenberg ('The Squid and the Whale') & Kristen Stewart ('Twilight'), who provide steady performances to anchor the film, but it is the ensemble help from the relatively unknown oddballs who work at the park as well as Bill Hader and Ryan Reynolds who also elevate the material. Reynolds in particular is very good as he plays an older theme park handyman and lothario, whose claim to fame is that he once jammed with Lou Reed - maybe.

5) As you might expect from the time period, the soundtrack is excellent as it includes tracks like the aforementioned "Rock Me Amadeus," but also picks up a variety of lesser-known (and annoying) songs that fit the tone of the movie very well.

All in all, 'Adventureland' is a wistful, solid little movie that provides some laughs and pulls good performances from an ensemble cast trying to find their footing while taking baby steps in the transition moving from high school or college towards adulthood.

It's no 'Superbad,' but there's easily enough room for both kinds of films for me.



  1. wigsf Says:
  2. Okay, yes or no, is there a montage of penis drawings?

  3. WIGSF - No. See what I mean about the differences? That was absolutely hilarious in 'Superbad.'

  4. Heff Says:
  5. I'm with WIGSF - the "penis clip" from Superbad MADE THE MOVIE.

    1987 ? Not my favorite year, lol.

    - Waiting for it on dish, YET AGAIN !

  6. JLee Says:
  7. This looked kinda funny to me and I always like Ryan Reynolds in most things I've seen, so a rental might be in order.

  8. Heff - I agree as the penis clips were probably the highlight of the movie. Great stuff. And sorry to hear about '87, which is probably reason enough to wait for the Dish. Again. Ha.

    Jlee - I like Reynolds, although not so much for the romantic comedies he seems to be finding lately (though to be fair, I haven't watched them) as he was excellent in 'Van Wilder.' You should rent this one sometime . . .

  9. Linda Says:
  10. This was a much sweeter, realistic story than I expected. The association with Superbad may confuse folks. The scenes in the amusement park are the funniest. Loved the cars too. Was Reynolds character's car a Gran Torino?

  11. Boxer Says:
  12. I almost went to see this, but with 65 degrees and SUN there was no way I could go into a dark theater. It's kinda funny to think that 1987 is now nostalgic, but I'd love to see this "period" piece because I was just about that age during that summer.

    We watched "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" this weekend. It's no Superbad either, but it had its moments.

  13. Linda - I agree about the confusion, and it was the more realistic approach that appealed to me. And nice call on the cars as I forgot about them as they were excellent. I'm not sure about Reynold's car, but you might be right as I never remember getting a great look at it during a daylight scene.

    Boxer - Then you made the right call . . . This would be fine for a rainy day or a rental, but don't squander that weather. As for 'Zack and Miri,' I agree as it had some moments (really like Elizabeth Banks & the Justin Long cameo), but no 'Superbad.' That being said, definitely check out 'Adventureland' at some point.

  14. CHEF TROLL Says:
  15. Not sure if the "SuperBad" comparison ads were wise or not. Didn't see that and won't see this.

    But there's ample precedence for people making really broad Teen Comedies also having the ability to make other types of films.

    The late great Bob Clark made "Porky's" and "A Christmas Story".

    P.S. The everglade's Den of Iniquity that was depicted in the 50s era "Porkys" was still around when The Troll was a lad.

  16. BostonPobble Says:
  17. I am actually more likely to see this now. While movies such as Superbad have their place, I don't care much for them. A more intimate, quieter piece is definitely more up my alley and the ads weren't doing it any favors in my world. This review does. Thanks.

  18. kmwthay Says:
  19. I think I will wait it out to see this one, as recommended by you. I haven't seen Superbad, but really didn't know about it until I watched Role Models. A part of me feels like I am getting too old to watch this kind of movie. Maybe, maybe not. Good review though.

  20. Boxer Says:
  21. oh jeez, if the lovely KMWTHAY is getting too old, then I'm REALLY too old. :-) Mr.Boxer and I love these.

    Porky's. Now that was a classic. Kim Cattrall's best role. Ha.

  22. Chef Troll - That's a very cool piece of trivia I didn't know despite owning both of those movies on DVD. Thanks. I hope you got a picture at the swamp-site . . .

    Bostonpobble - I'm glad to help as that was the main draw for me as well. This is definitely a quieter film, and it's set back East (Pittsburgh?) which may make it more interesting. Maybe not. Ha.

    Kmwthay - Yep. It's a struggle to decide which ones in this genre are worth seeing as you get older. I think the best ones - whether they be 'Superbad' or 'Adventureland' or whatever - take you back to that general span in your own life & don't make you feel too old along the way. Ha. It will make a solid rental . . .

    Boxer - I still like the ones that are done well & always will (see above comment as well for explanation). The worst ones, the ones chasing trends with irritating characters, however, I could do without. As for "Porky's," you nailed it as that is a classic & a Godfather of the genre. They call Cattrell 'Lassie' right? Ha.

  23. So, my friend wanted to go see this movie over the weekend, but I told him that I didn't want to because I'm trying to save money. Then today I went out and dropped $40 on a set of horseshoes because the annual tournament is approaching and I feel like I need to practice beforehand. Not exactly "saving" money with that move, am I?

  24. Miss Ash Says:
  25. I've not seen the trailers though this does sound like something I would enjoy. I worked at an amusement park back in the day and I do love me some 80's music!

  26. CHEF TROLL Says:
  27. Here be some more trivia. And kind of ironic since his best known film is a family Christmas Classic.

    Some say Uncle Bob invented both the "slasher" and "horny teen" genres. He was killed by an illegal alien plastered driver.

  28. slopmaster Says:
  29. can you believe I have not seen superbad?

    This sounds good too though, takes me back to my days...

  30. Farzan Says:
  31. Ill rent it once it hits Blu Ray. People said it was great, but they also said it was probably better if I waited for the Blu Ray/DVD instead of spending $10 bucks on it

  32. Native Minnow - Hell, I kept waiting for the horshoe thing to be a joke. Ha. I had no idea they were so damn expensive & I'd like to see a post about the tournament. Seriously.

    Miss Ash - Amusement park, eh? I must have missed that if you posted on it before now . . . And if that's the case, then you should definitely check this one out sometime as you would dig it. Rental would be fine.

    Chef Troll - You're full of interesting trivia on this guy as that is a lot of irony and living for one man alone. Bizarre. And thanks for the link - appreciate it.

    Slopmaster - You should rent 'Superbad' for sure. I liked it quite a bit (though maybe not as much as some people) as there's some damn funny stuff. 'Adventureland' is worth a look too, although for different reasons.

    Farzan - You'd be fine to wait for Blu-Ray as this is a very good movie that would work well on the small screen. Then again, there's not a lot out in the theater right, so . . .


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