Adventureland boasts a fresh young cast with impeccable comedy pedigrees including Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale), Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Martin Starr (Knocked Up), Bill Hader (Tropic Thunder), Kristen Wiig (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Ryan Reynolds (X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Its irresistible vintage soundtrack rolls back time more than two decades with great ’80s pop songs by iconic music acts of the era, including The Cure, David Bowie, Crowded House, INXS, Lou Reed and more.
The summer of 1987 could only be described as one thing; bland. James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) would have to find that out the hard way. He was planning a trip to Europe, before heading off to an Ivy League school. Money troubles in his family force him to get a job close to home, at the local rundown amusement park. His first impression of the place from the manager (Bill Hader) leaves him wanting/hoping for more. Soon after tackling his new summer career as a games coordinator, he realizes that it couldn’t get much worse. Then again, we are talking about the 80’s. That should be pretty clear upfront. What unfolds before his eyes in the coming months would be a real eye opener for him. He learns what trust, love, responsibility, and loathing are all about. When he meets another carnie named Emily (Kristen Stewart), there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Whether or not he can make it to the end of August is the only question that remains to be answered.
The best thing that Adventureland had fueling the duration of the movie was its whiny and grimy punk soundtrack. Songs that I wouldn’t normally own on CD filled the atmosphere with fitting comfort. I’ve stated before, in prior reviews, that having Jesse Eisenberg as a leading man is shocking, since he’s no Zack Morris. I got a kick out of noticing today that even one of the best movie websites, “I.M.D.B.” doesn’t even warrant a photo for Mr. Eisenberg. Good call, powers that be. Back to the movie… It was an average at best experience paying my good nine dollars to see “Kennywood” be portrayed as a “ghetto-tastic” version of itself. The main characters were unappealing, and even less interesting than a trip to the doctor’s office. Bill Hader and Ryan Reynolds were the most amusing and funny parts of the movie, but yet could still be described as cameo type roles. I was amused at the less than successful attempt at padding the film’s roster by putting the precious Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart as the leading lady. The chemistry between the two main characters was less amusing than a Billy Mays infomercial. At least his hands have talent. All in all, I didn’t hate this movie, but would never watch it again, and wouldn’t beg anyone to rent it. Save it for a watch after the new year, when the usual drought of movies comes along after the holidays have passed.
The Blu-ray addition holds some nice extras including deleted scenes, audio commentary, the ‘Making Of’ featurette, and another of other featurettes all in high definition!
Review by Charlie Giltenboth