I actually got to write a review for The Apiary which is THE essential NYC comedy site. I got to go to an early screening of Adventureland. It was a great time and an enjoyable movie. My Apiary review can be found here.
However, since that review was limited to 300 words, I thought I would post my unabridged review here.
We’ve all been to an amusement park. You rode the swings until your legs lost feeling or your shoe fell off. You picked your poison between funnel cake and cotton candy. You kept playing skee ball until you earned enough tickets to get six spider rings and jacks or the ball for jacks but not both. You spent forty bucks for that handful of nothing and you wonder how anyone can get the 40,000 tickets needed for that toaster oven with the fabric-covered power cord coated in 25 years of dust. You swore never to go back.
Adventureland, written and directed by Greg Mottola, follows James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a guy who is forced to go back. James expected to spend the summer after college seeing Europe but instead had to get a job working at Adventureland, the local amusement park. His crappy parents reneged on their graduation present because his father had to take a pay cut at work or something. I don’t know. It was hard to relate to this part given today’s economy. Regardless, love, pot ingestion, sack taps, and carnival game-related hi-jinks ensue.
Those expecting Superbad 2 will not receive it. This is a retelling of the director’s own experiences working at an amusement park one summer. The movie is personal and is presented as such. You experience everything James is going through from the disappointment with his parents to his increasing romantic feelings for the grown-up version of the cute, little boy from Panic Room (Kristen Stewart).
While the actors are great, the real star is the soundtrack. (I will be accepting punches to the face for the awfulness of that last sentence.) It features 80s music from The Cure, Husker Du, Lou Reed, New York Dolls, and more. Each song fits the situation perfectly. The last movie that used music this well was Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and look how that turned out.
See this movie if you hate summer jobs, your parents, the 90s, cancer, or bad movies.
Finally, some things I learned while watching:
- Erections were not easy to hide in pants from the late 80s.
- Martin Starr plays misunderstood geek like no other.
- It’s weird to see the guy who killed vampires in Blade III make out with the girl that was in love with a vampire in Twilight. Now that’s range.
- It really wasn’t anything like Superbad.
- Ryan Reynolds doesn’t have to play the same character in every movie.
- You can use a single lesser-known fact about Charles Dickens to pick up a girl.