Friday, April 3, 2009


Greg Mottola's "Adventureland" is not exactly what you would think was coming. The actual quality hits from an angle, and it's hard to believe that it's really not a disaster. It's funny, charming, and very attentive to detail. This is how Mottola's piece gets an edge. Mottola himself worked at Adventureland, so the feel is authentic, and the memories are true to heart. He also has an eye for the right song, with Lou Reed as his weapon of choice and also replete with nice selections such as INXS and The Cure (with a fantastic "Just Like Heaven" scene), also poking fun at some cheesy and overplayed pop ("Rock Me Amadeus").

But it also is down-to-earth, and lovely in its small and sweet ways. Jesse Eisenberg plays it straight but charming as James, a dreaming young virgin straight outta college. When he doesn't have the money he needs for his European odyssey, he goes to work at the titular amusement park. The manager, Bobby (Bill Hader, showing true comedic power), is a nutcase. Other workers are slightly strange as well: Joel (Martin Starr) is a intellectual trapped inside of a park worker's body, and Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds) is a poser musician who pretends he's "jammed with Lou Reed," although he can't properly identify "Satellite of Love" ("Shed a Light on Love" LOL). There's also Em (Kristin Stewart), a beautiful girl living slightly on the edge (understandably). James falls immediately in love with her, and we know when he gets out of the pool with her at a party and James' idiotic friend (Matt Bush) loudly references a certain anatomical ailment that most men experience periodically. Connell also has a thing for Em, and this becomes the film's romantic tension, perhaps played a little bit too much. The best scenes where those heavily soaked in theme park days of yore, where games and rides are manned and summer hits high peak.

Mottola doesn't milk these out as much as he could have, but he makes those that he shows delights. He also writes a hilariously top-notch script of the highest comedic order. He is supplied only with the best, though. The chemistries that he develops throughout the film are unusual and excellent. For example, a great scene is when Starr and Eisenberg first banter, a fabulous introduction to the theme park atmosphere and a great showcase for two good actors. All-in-all, "Adventureland" is a fun, very humorous, and diverting look back onto golden years, one that will hopefully establish Mottola even more as one to bring it home. B+

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