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Adventureland
Genre Comedy
Year: 2009
 
Review:

Adventureland is Greg Mottola’s follow-up to the critically-acclaimed American teen movie, Superbad. Except Mottola takes both writing and directing credits on Adventureland, making this his second writing expedition since The Daytrippers. What worked for The Daytrippers, and what works for Adventureland is that the audience are naturally drawn to the characters, who find themselves in an everyday situation, where there’s never a dull moment. The dialogue is interesting - even thought-provoking, and the journey is so ordinary it’s extraordinary for Hollywood. Adventureland is not a road movie like The Daytrippers, it’s more of a stoner comedy, so you could say they do take a trip of sorts.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as James Brennan, the dork that leaves his comfort zone to become king of the dorks at a local amusement park called Adventureland. It’s set in the ’80s, so everyone was a dork to be fair to James. His quiet, kind-hearted nature makes him a nice guy, and usually they finish last right? Well, this time James is taking the blue ribbon as his summer romance at Adventureland unfolds before our eyes.

Guy gets job, meets girl, falls in love… the basic skeletal structure may seem worn out, but Mottola brings refreshing sensibility and sincerity to this ’80s romance. It’s a time travel excursion to the 1980s, where everything seemed to be more care-free in America. The characters are mostly teenagers, living their hedonistic lives in the company of a joint. While the consequence-free environment fosters the idea that Adventureland is one big trip of a movie, it still resonates truth with its tender romance story.

The film was marketed as a teen sex romp and it’s not even nearly as sex-crazed as Superbad. The sexuality is insinuated, rather than graphically exploited and there’s a wonderful innocence and gentle flow to Adventureland. Eisenberg and Stewart have great on-screen chemistry and make their convincing characters come alive. The comedy is just as natural as the storytelling and it’s refreshing to watch a Hollywood film that chooses to invite your sense of humour.

Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig add a little comic fodder as amusement park management, but its the shy, teen awkwardness and romance that shines through. Fine performances, natural dialogue, a tender love story, ’80s nostalgia, solid direction and some humorous summer job comedy make Adventureland a fine entry in its genre. This is a story that feels so down-to-earth that it could easily be a chapter from someone’s autobiography… okay, someone that really loved to smoke pot as a kid. Nevertheless, the movie is easy to slip into and makes for great entertainment. It may not stay with you, but it’s a joy to feel like you’re there.

The bottom line: Natural.

Splingometer 7 - Adventureland
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