Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's Time for a Little "Adventureland"

I walked into the Springfield 8 movie theater in Springfield, MO expecting a campy 80s comedy about the ever-so-difficult life of high schoolers working at an amusement park; I walked out with a smile on my face after seeing an actual movie with a plot and everything! Adventureland stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart and was written and directed by Greg Mottola of Superbad fame. I was pleasantly surprised to find this movie is actually a substance comedy that has just enough melodrama to keep the audience entertained and interested in the story.

James Brennan (Eisenberg) is a recent college graduate looking for any job that will hire him who ends up working for a local fun park. One downfall is the fact that he was a poetry major, a character trait that doesn’t quite fit into his 1987 Pittsburgh upbringing. Another personality setback is how similar James is to actor Michael Cera in his last three movies. It seems obvious that Mottola wanted Cera for this movie, so making the lead character resemble Cera was his next best option. Eisenberg brings a slightly different flavor to the film, but nothing that makes him stand out. The same goes for Stewart, whose character Emily is remarkably parallel to Bella, the character she played in Twilight. Technically, I guess Bella would be like Emily snce Adventureland came first, but still... While Stewart does have a solid handle on her character’s teen angst (even though she is portraying a 20-year-old), she doesn’t show much growth even with her world being turned upside down around her. One standout performance comes from Matt Bush, whose character Frigo is the perfect reminder of the annoying semi-bully that we all loved and hated in school but couldn’t get away. I smile every time I see him in an AT&T commercial... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuu3jdmXQ4Y)

I am a big fan of the 80s, and I love that this film wasn’t made to be an “80s movie.” It was simply a film set in 1987, and the lingo, costumes and music compliment perfectly.

There is a lot of drug use portrayed in this movie, but nothing graphic. One completely unrealistic element of the film is how much free time these kids have at work. Smoking and drinking are all done on the clock, yet magically no one notices. The storyline is solid, but the characters neither act their age nor react believably to some of the adult situations they find themselves in. This movie would be better if all the characters were high school grads, not college, and if the relationship between the main characters was further established before hearts are broken over what seems like a trivial matter. That being said, my rating for this movie is good – IF YOU ARE UNDER 30 AND WANT A FUN MOVIE WITH A LIGHT PLOT, AT THE VERY LEAST WATCH THIS ON DVD. Adventureland is rated "R".  You can purchase Adventureland on DVD or Adventureland [Blu-ray] from Amazon.com. 

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