Adventureland – DVD Review
By Jeff Swindoll Aug 26, 2009, 16:49 GMT
A COMEDY SET IN THE SUMMER OF 1987 AND CENTERED AROUND A RECENT COLLEGE GRAD WHO TAKES A NOWHERE JOB AT HIS LOCAL AMUSEMENT PARK, ONLY TO FIND IT\'S THE PERFECT COURSE TO GET HIM PREPARED FOR THE REAL WORLD. ...more
A touching, coming-of-age story was sold by the trailer as being the second coming of Superbad. This is not what audiences got and it must’ve surprised some of them.
If you’re looking for the alternative to Superbad you might be impressed with this sentimental, personal journal through Adventureland.
James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is a graduate of the class of 1987 and is looking forward to his summer in Europe and education at Columbia University on returning from the continent. His hopes are dashed when his parents (Jack Gilpin and Wendie Malick) break the news that dad has been downsized and taken a sizable cut in pay. They now won’t be able to fund either adventure for James.
He’s told if he’s going to want to go to Columbia in the fall that he’s going to need to get a summer job. His search for employment comes up dry until he applies at the Adventureland amusement park.
The park is run by Bobby (Bill Hader) and Paulette (Kristen Wiig) who basically hire James on the spot. The park is a social microcosm divided into the haves, those that run the rides, and the have-nots, those that run the games. James is thrown in with the lovable losers of games.
He makes friends with the eccentric Joel (Martin Starr), catches the eye of the cute Em (Kristen Stewart) and everyone is in awe of the park’s handyman Mike (Ryan Reynolds) whose legend says that he played a gig with Lou Reed.
Lisa P. (Margarita Leviera) works for rides and is the object of every male worker’s fantasies. James’ ex-best-friend Frigo (Matt Bush) also works in rides and has a unique greeting of hitting people in the nuts. James and Em start a romance but Em is not without her issues as her stepmother is of the evil sort and there’s an even darker one that no one knows about.
Adventureland is not the raucous comedy that the trailer sells it as. The trailer had you thinking it was the second coming of the insane antics of Superbad. What you actually got was a more thoughtful coming-of-age tale based on the summer experiences of director Greg Mottola working at a similar amusement park in his youth.
Adventureland was not a film served well by its trailer. Even with the presence of vampire “it” girl Kristen Stewart, I’d imagine that audiences expecting mad comedy were thoroughly disappointed. That wasn’t me. I did notice the change in theme from trailer to actual film, but I happened to find the sweet, thoughtful romance uplifting. I’m a softie, ain’t I?
Sure you’ve got the same old story (boy meets girl, boy looses girl, etc.) but it was a film that I got into and had a smile on my face by the time the credits rolled. Maybe it was because the film is a period piece and a period that I just happened to have lived through.
If you’re into 80s music, the soundtrack is alive with the sounds of the time period. You may love the repeated listenings of Rock Me Amadeus (Hot Potatoes!). Adventureland was a movie that found a soft spot in this hard critic’s heart, but just don’t expect the antics of Superbad.
Adventureland is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include a commentary with writer/director Greg Mottola and Jesse Eisenberg. There’s also the 16 minute “Just My Life” making of and 2 minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Mottola and Eisenberg.
If you’re in the right mood and don’t think you’ve been sold a “bill of goods” then you might groove on Adventureland. If you want Superbad 2 then you’ll feel like a redneck cheated at carny games. I found the film heartwarming and it left me with a smile on my face.