Saturday, April 11, 2009

Review: Adventureland

Grade: A

Adventureland is a new comedy out about a teen in 1987 who has just graduated from college and wants to go to grad school but his parents are having money trouble so he has to take a summer job at a local amusement park in order to save up some money to move to New York and attend Columbia. This is another one of those movies that's advertisements don't properly portray the movie. If you just watch the trailers it shows that it is a movie directed by Greg Mattola, who also directed Superbad, and that it appears to be on the same line as Superbad, as in it looks to be another teen comedy about a bunch of foul mouthed kids trying to have sex, doing drugs and partying. While some of that does go on in the movie, that is not what this movie is about.

Adventureland is actually a sweet, coming of age story. The main character James Brennan, played by Jesse Eisenberg, has just graduated from college and is looking forward to a European trip with some friends before heading off to grad school in New York. He is talking to his parents about how he needs a little extra cash for his trip when they tell him that they are having a little money problems so they won't be able to help him with his trip to Europe and that he will need to get a job to save up some money to pay for school. After some searching he lands a minimum wage job working the games stations at a local amusement park, Adventureland (which is a lot like Lakeside Amusement park for those in the Denver area). The trailers seem to portray James as a lonely and desperate immature boy when in fact he is a very intelligent romantic at heart. At Adventureland he meets Em Lewin, played by Kristen Stewart (Twilight), a beautiful girl who helps him out on his first couple days and they become friends. The movie mostly follows these two as their friendship grows into love and they both encounter some problems and tough decisions.

The supporting cast in this movie is fantastic. Martin Starr plays the lonely character Joel, a very sweet but nerdy guy who's having trouble finding love. Margarita Levieva plays Lisa P, the sexy seductress that all the men at the park want to be with. Ryan Reynolds plays Mike Connell, the park maintenance man. The best supporting characters in the movie are Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig who play Bobby and Paulette, the park owners. Bill Hader has all the funniest parts of the movie as the extremely laid back and, at times, irresponsible park owner and Kristen Wiig is great but very subtle as his wife.

One of the best parts of this movie is the fantastic soundtrack. Again, this movie takes place in 1987 so it's nothing new but the combination of the songs they picked were great. Also, they did not really pick any mainstream 80's music other than Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" which plays practically non-stop at the park. From the opening scene with "Bastards of Young" by The Replacements, to "I'm in Love With A Girl" by Big Star after the Party at Em's house, to the song "Pale Blue Eyes" by Velvet Underground played a couple times throughout the movie. Also songs by The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, New York Dolls, Poison, Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Lou Reed, The Cure and INXS. It really is a perfect soundtrack for this movie.

I would recommend everybody give this movie a chance. Like I said, this movie is not some raunchy and filthy teen sex comedy, it is a very sweet, wonderful and romantic at times coming of age comedy. I believe it would appeal to most people.

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