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MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Adventureland’ Not Quite An Adventure

by Zach Bourque 3 April 2009 231 views 3 Comments E-mail Zach Bourque

Image Via Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

Image Via Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

When you bust out a gem that quite literally sets America ablaze, the world is your oyster.  Just ask Greg Mottola, who directed that little movie you may have heard of called Superbad. The guy could have directed any movie he wanted.  While I don’t know the hard details of this story, I would ASSUME that given the incredible success of Superbad, the man had some serious offers on the table to consider.

So, why not knock out another huge, fat check earning blockbuster?  Because Greg Mottola wants to get all personal with us.  This Friday, his semi-biographical sophomore mainstream debut will hit theaters across America.  The movie is another one you may have heard: Adventureland.

The ads are hyping this movie up pretty hardcore.  Every single one highlights that this is from the director of Superbad and that it is just that kind of film; raunchy, hysterical and groundbreaking.  So, the question at hand is: is Adventureland actually any good?

The short answer, unfortunately, is “no.”  Now, the movie isn’t bad mind you.   It is just so incredibly far off what you think it is going to be that when you walk out you may feel cheated.  Case in point, Adventureland is definitely, most certainly, not Superbad.

But, for all we know, Adventureland could be exactly what Mottola wanted.  The project is entirely personal, a semi-biographical coming-of-age tale with some heart.

And that it does.

Image Via Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

Image Via Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

The film, which is set in the late 1980s, to all those unfamiliar with the plot, chronicles the story of James Brennan, played by Jesse Eisenberg, a recent college grad who discovers that you can’t really do much with a history degree.  As such, he must work a dead end job at an amusement park in his home town, aptly titled Adventureland. Romance and maturity follow as Brennan comes to terms with his sexuality as he courts the 80s answer to an emo kid, the cute yet distant Em, played by Twilight vet, Kirstin Stewart.
The acting by two leads is stellar, though it’s hard to completely buy into their romance.  Supporting cast is likewise impressive, consisting of Ryan Reynolds, Kirstin Wiig, Bill Hader and Martin Starr.

Adventureland, which was shot at Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania, is an entirely well made film with serviceable cinematography, editing and sound design.  The soundtrack of 80s alt-hits is pretty swell too, though don’t go expecting to hear any big numbers.

The best way to describe Adventureland is tastefully mediocre.  It throws a lot at the viewer; romance, humor, drugs, civil disobedience, etc. etc.  But what the film doesn’t do is take advantage of any said element of the film and run with it.  The movie, while having its moments, isn’t entirely that funny.  The romance, while touching at times, isn’t all that convincing.  And the rest of the elements comprise this altogether “meh” response; not bad, just disappointing, especially if you are walking into the film looking for another Superbad.


Now, if you walk into Adventureland, do it with an open mind.  As I said, the film isn’t bad.  It can be described by many words but that isn’t a word that quite fits.  The work is personal, retro, amusing and entertaining, but it lacks the X factor that could have made it really something special.  As it stands, Adventureland is a solid effort by Mottola, though most certainly not the follow up to Superbad we were all hoping for.  Go in with low expectations and you may have a better time than I did.

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  • Hanna said:

    I hate anything with Kristen Stewart.

  • clarey said:

    zeebs i totally agree, thought the same way when i saw it at the screening

  • Tom said:

    Why oh Why does Kristen Stewart have to ruin every movie,she just needs to gtfo of the movie industry, she is so bad. The reason why this movie didn’t perform as well as it did is because kristen stewart ruined every emotional or hysterical part in the movie, since she is always a zombie in her movies.
    just gtfo Kristen Stewart

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