Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I have been vacillating on whether or not to recommend Adventureland. The film really doesn't cover any new ground and does not have a lot of great comic. In fact, the comedy tends to be juvenile. On the other hand, I laughed at some of the sophomoric humor and toughed it out to the end of the film. It wasn't bad, it wasn't was dead in the middle in that area that leaves you wondering whether to go thumbs up or thumbs down. So I am going to go thumbs sideways with two and half stars and the slightest recommendation possible.

James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) thinks he has his whole future planned out, beginning with a Summer 1987 trip around Europe before settling in as a Journalism Major at Columbia University come Fall. He has trouble wrapping his mind around the idea that his father has taken a major pay cut, short-changing his travel plans as well as the feasibility of attending Columbia. His impressive resume of lawn mowing (with references) and his score of 770 seem to limit his employment options, leaving him with only one alternative. Adventureland.

Adventureland is a cheesy amusement park with rigged games and carnival style rides. The mom and pop park is run by an odd character named Bobby (Bill Hader) who runs the park his own way...which doesn't always mean the customer is right. Brennan's buddy (king of the sack whack) Frigo (Matt Bush) works at the park running rides. He also develops a new friendship with Joel (Martin Starr) who seems to have some of the economic limitations and intellect but has lost the vision. A love interest (Em, played by Kristen Stewart) blossoms, but with complications. Adventureland provides Brennan the opportunity to find himself, if he knows where to look.

Adventureland is formulaic, but doesn't seem to know exactly which formula to use. The excessive use of pot might point to a "smoke" movie. Then there is the whole "coming-of-age" thing...but most of these kids seem to have already passed "that age." Love story? Nah. Romantic comedy? Not quite. Comedy? It wasn't quite funny enough. It almost seems like they wanted to capture that mysterious quality in Napoleon Dynamite and capitalize on it...but it wasn't that, either. It worked out okay, but not great for me.

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