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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.41%
Worth A Look: 24.49%
Pretty Bad: 14.29%
Total Crap: 2.04%

6 reviews, 13 user ratings

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by William Goss

"Rigged Games, Bumpy Rides, and Jabs to the Junk - Ah, The '80s"
3 stars

In Mike Judge’s 'Idiocracy,' the future has become so dumbed down that the most popular film of all time is simply called 'Ass,' and is nothing but a shot of just that with occasional fart interludes. By the time intrepid protagonist Luke Wilson is addressing Congress, he’s regaling them with tales of “great films, with plots! Where you cared about whose ass it was, and why it was farting!” Perhaps to show that these developments were a long time coming, Greg Mottola’s ‘80s-set 'Adventureland' has Frigo (Matt Bush), a juvenile jerk with a penchant for running around the eponymous amusement park and the rest of mopey Pittsburgh and doling out assaults to the junk. Yes, he even slaps a shot or two to our protagonist, James (Jesse Eisenberg) – the problem is, I’m not entirely sure that Mottola makes us care about whose dick is being punched.

Don’t get me wrong: the writer-director (The Daytrippers) certainly has a knack for place and time. He doesn’t abuse the clothes and the tunes when establishing the nostalgia for an era, and he understands that coming of age takes time, a combination of big events and small ones, a medley of comedy and drama (something the Superbad-heavy marketing willfully fails to understand).

And it’s not exactly Eisenberg’s fault, either. He’s been good at playing the educated-but-awkward young adult since Roger Dodger and The Squid and the Whale; he’s like Michael Cera with an unwitting air of condescension. No one can blame him for resenting a summer job that he’s insanely overeducated and underqualified for, but forced to take, and no one could honestly blame him for going ga-ga over Em (Kristen Stewart), a girl with Troubles of Her Own who still knows how to have fun.

But there’s a remaining disconnect between a guy trying to figure out what he wants in life and a guy lamenting his botched summer trip to Europe and struggling to make it to Columbia in the fall, and a remaining disconnect between the wistful nature of Mottola’s material and the occasional raucous interruption by either Bush’s feasibly obnoxious Frigo or the hilarious park-owning pair of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. The two 'SNL' stars feel like they're out of the broadest possible version of this movie (again, the one being sold in all the recent TV spots), and yet they often arrive as a welcome breath of silliness from all the moping between James, Em, the pipe-puffing Joel (Martin Starr), and the lady-loving Mike (Ryan Reynolds, filling the straight-man role with surprising restraint). It's a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be about people who don't know who they want to be, and the meandering demeanor sometimes gets the better of the proceedings.

To his credit, at least Mottola isn’t trying to emulate teen films of the era, but it’s hard to say that 'Adventureland' stands to join their ranks. It has the when and where down pat, but the who and why could use another shot if he really wants to take home the giant-ass panda.

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originally posted: 04/06/09 05:03:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/27/11 Ken Totally unexpected. Well done and enjoyable. 4 stars
1/19/11 mr.mike Ending seems tacked-on , otherwise "no bad". 4 stars
11/05/09 Liberty Man Well done. Better than I expected. 4 stars
10/03/09 MSR Absolutely awful and totally transparent. 1 stars
9/04/09 matt great laughs, great story, great soundtrack. very good movie 5 stars
8/29/09 Dan Nice story with relatable characters... better than the zany movie I was expecting 4 stars
8/28/09 Jeff Wilder Not as funny as Superbad maybe. But smarter and more ambitious. 5 stars
5/28/09 Samantha Pruitt kind of funny, nice and sweet at the end. 4 stars
5/14/09 Colin M A much better movie than its trailer let on. Has relatable characters and great soundtrack. 5 stars
5/10/09 Steve Michaud A sharp, insightful, charming film; one of 2009's very best 5 stars
4/15/09 Sully For a 80's-first-job-teen-love movie stay with Caddyshack.Kristen S. & hair flips UGH!!! 3 stars
4/13/09 Drew It is a very intersting movie. 4 stars
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  03-Apr-2009 (R)
  DVD: 25-Aug-2009


  DVD: 25-Aug-2009

Directed by
  Greg Mottola

Written by
  Greg Mottola

  Jesse Eisenberg
  Ryan Reynolds
  Kristen Stewart
  Martin Starr
  Paige Howard

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