Sunday, April 05, 2009
Review: Adventureland (2009)
Adventureland is a movie that took me by surprise. I expected it to be funny--and it was, very much so--but I didn't expect it to tug at your heartstrings and leave you in awe by certain scenes that are so simple and so beautiful it makes you want to shout your love from the hilltops.
Forced to scrap plans that involved a post-college graduation sabbatical around Europe with his pals due to money issues, James (Jesse Eisenberg) finds a job at the local theme park Adventureland. He doesn't mope like a petulant teenager like I probably would've if I had to give up Europe for a shitty Summer job. Instead he takes it in stride, being a guy who tends to find the romanticism in everything.
Naturally, there are an assortment of oddball co-workers, but never over the top or exaggerated. Martin Starr, Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig offer clever and subdued moments of comedy genius. Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds play up the darker and more serious roles, but it never seeming unnatural or out of place. All the performances are completely dead on.
Greg Mottola showed us he could direct with Superbad but who the hell knew he could write? The film is based on his experiences working at the real Adventureland as a young college grad, so no wonder it's filled with humor as well as emotion, not to mention one of the best soundtracks I've heard since Trainspotting.
Jesse Eisenberg plays James in such a way that he redefines what it means to be an awkward nice guy (you know, the Michael Cera role). He's smart, yet a hopeless romantic who obsesses over Shakespeare sonnets (and also makes a mixtape of "The Best Bummer Songs" for Kristen Stewart's troubled Em).
The film doesn't ever linger on scenes too long. It simply lets things play out between the characters to illustrate a typical crappy Summer job, and I could relate in more ways than one.
The first really great movie of this year.
Recommended? Yes. Lord yes.