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Adventureland (2009)

September 20, 2009

7/10 Corndogs

A good, authentic coming-of-age movie that reminds us how royally shitty our Summer jobs used to be.

Adventureland is about a recent college grad whose Summer plans to go on a Eurotrip get cancelled because his parents can’t foot the bill and he ends up taking a gig as a carnie at the local amusement park since he can’t get a job anywhere else. He ends up meeting a girl, smoking a lot of weed, drinking a lot of booze, getting punched in the balls a lot, and the rest is history.

It’s the semi-autobiographical story of director Greg Mottola, and considering that he’s also the guy who directed Superbad, I’m guessing he had some pretty kickass times in his youth. Almost beats my Summer where I stayed at home and played video games for two months. Oh, wait, that’s right…that was every Summer. God, I was cool.

So even though I sure as hell couldn’t relate McLovin’s High School experience to my own, it’s probably safe to say that everyone has worked a “character building” Summer job in their life (lord knows I have), and that’s where this movie works. Adventureland is easy to get into because we’ve all been there, we can all relate to this kid’s experience, and, yes, it sucked for everyone.

It’s great to come across a movie where the script feels like something I could have written, that anyone could have written, because it’s simple in premise, it’s about as complicated as growing up and figuring out women for the first time usually is, and you can connect to it. It also helps that the characters here aren’t sugarcoated and everyone here actually talks and behaves like young twenty-somethings. Actually reminded me a lot of this great book I read recently called The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which is about a High School Freshman that breaks out of his shell, partly due to his discovery of sweet music and house parties. Awesome book, highly recommend it.

It’s also good that it’s pretty damn funny. Then again, weed, beer, and nut shots are a winning addition to any script.

The main character is played by Jesse Eisenberg, who I’m still trying to figure out if I like or not after seeing him in Roger Dodger and The Squid and the Whale a while back (both worth checking out), but he’s pretty good here all the same; seems likable enough, not sure about the hair. I’m guessing another draw to seeing this movie might be Kristen Stewart, for all you “Twihards” out there. But considering that this is the first time I’ve seen her act since Panic Room, and that doesn’t really count, she was pretty damn good. It’s just that everyone in the cast seems believably normal in both the way they act and the way they look, and that’s uncommonly great. Although the exception to the rule here is Ryan Reynolds, because people who look like Ryan Reynolds don’t make a living by fixing the teacup ride at local carnivals.

But the scene-stealers here are easily Bill Hader and Martin Starr. They’re freakin’ hilarious and seem to always turn up just when the movie starts to drag. Man, Martin Starr needs to start getting the respect he deserves, dammit. Go watch Freaks and Geeks, folks. You’ll understand.

The soundtrack is also great since it’s jam-packed with Lou Reed and Velvet Underground songs. Being that Lou Reed is the man, this has to be mentioned.

I wish I had more to say about this movie, or at least be more enthusiastic about what I’ve already said, because even though I liked it, the final product feels mostly forgettable. I guess that’s the double-edged sword of having a script that feels like it was written about anyone and everyone’s life and times after college, it comes off as unspectacular. After all, crazier times have been had by teenagers, I think Cameron Crowe in Almost Famous has the Summer to top. Nonetheless, I dug Adventureland and if you’re looking for an entertaining way to spend roughly two hours, you could do a lot worse.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2009 1:20 pm

    Yeah I agree this film was good and pretty funny, just not too memorable. Overall, good movie and good review.

  2. September 21, 2009 10:28 am

    Ever get the feeling you were the only person who didn’t like a movie?? The more reviews of ADVENTURELAND I read, the more I feel isolated as the only guy who didn’t really care for it.


    Maybe I need to give it another watch.

    Love the review, and the whole blog by the way. Felt like I should come check it out after seeing your comment on my White Stripes post. Keep up the good work – I’ve counted myself as a follower of this fine space and shall be back for more!

    • September 21, 2009 10:34 am

      Thanks a ton, man. You just made my day and you’re officially on the blog roll. Anyone who digs movies and the White Stripes as much as I do sure knows what’s up.

  3. September 22, 2009 11:04 am

    i thought this movie captured that perfect ‘summer job from hell’ type of summer we all had at age 16-17. Very good movie but I didn’t laugh out loud much. Great review, awesome blog!

    • September 22, 2009 11:31 am

      Thanks, man. I agree, it was definitely easy to relate to. Thanks for reading.

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