So, You’re Thinking of Seeing “Adventureland”?

I think you definitely should.

For one thing it should settle the debate raging on in this post over whether Kristen Stewart can act. (I think she can). For another, it’s one of the best romances I’ve seen in a while. It’s also a clever comedy. But not really a romantic comedy, thank God. It’s much too real and authentic to be characterized that way. A friend told me it was supposed to be the new “Say Anything.” Actually, upon seeing it, I think it’s better.

There, I said it.

Set in 1987, “Adventureland” is the story of a nerdy grad student named James who is forced to work at a run-down amusment park rather than travel Europe before starting grad school at Columbia. At his new job he meets a much less sheltered, and much more wild girl that he quickly develops feelings for. Romance with obstacles ensues.

One thing that makes the film great is the clever dialogue, and also the characters that populate the amusement park. Martin Starr (who you might recognize from “Freaks and Geeks”) plays Joel, a pipe-smoking Russian literature student who introduces James to the ins and outs of running the park’s games. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play the eccentric couple that runs the park, and add most of the comic relief.

The writer/director Greg Mottola just came off “Superbad” and although I have an appreciation for that film, it needs to be said that this film is totally different. In fact, “Adventureland” was sadly mismarketed as a sex romp, when in reality it’s a tender love story. It has a lot more in common with say, “The Graduate” than “American Pie.” It should appeal to anyone who has made their way through the treacherous waters of early love.

Music lovers will appreciate the soundtrack, and in fact, one running joke is about the suffering inflicted as the amusement park employees are forced to listen to “Rock Me Amadeus” all day long.

Although the film is set in the ’80s, the filmmakers wisely don’t try and jam in too many references to the time period, (a la, say “The Wedding Singer”) and in my opinion it gave the story a nice timeless quality, but people who come to this film expecting a trip down memory lane will be disappointed. These filmmakers aren’t interested in having you remember the sub-par music, or awful haircuts, or even the Reagan administration. They’re more interested in having you remember the heartache and excitment of falling for someone. Therein, my friends, lies the magic of this movie.

Check it out.

9 thoughts on “So, You’re Thinking of Seeing “Adventureland”?

  1. I can give my endorsement to this endorsement. I got completely lost in this movie more than I have with any other movie of the last few years (I had a similar experience with Almost Famous). It is that real and compelling.

  2. I’ve been wanting to see this but it seems to have made a hasty exit from the theaters. Is it not getting good numbers?

  3. I saw it at a discount theater. I think it was sorely mismarketed and lacked major star power.

    You’ll like it MCQ. It’s John Hughes-esque.

  4. It’s still around in my neck of the woods (that being the Virginia side of DC). I paid full price to see it on Saturday, and the theatre was half full.

    It is wonderful – for me, not quite the caliber of Almost Famous (which was an absolutely transcendent experience); the tone is not quite as steady and sure. But it has the same DNA, and it tells truth.

  5. Agree, Adventureland was wonderful. Easily one of the best “teen” comedy-dramas in recent memory. This was waaaay better than Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, for example. (Better than Superbad too.)

    Kristen Stewart was excellent. So was Jesse Eisenberg. I’ve liked him since I saw him in Roger Dodger, 4 or 5 years ago.

    I’m kind of cynical when it comes to on-screen romance, and easily pull back when I feel my emotions being manipulated, but I wanted to wrap my arms around this movie and proclaim my undying love. Not a false note in the movie.

    Kind of shocked it isn’t doing bigger business, but at the same time I’m glad. And I kind of understand too — if this had gone for the big, easy/cheap laughs of say, Superbad, it would be doing huge business. But this is more of a real coming-of-age movie as opposed to a wannabe coming-of-age movie with lots of dick jokes.

  6. I just watched this on DVD and I really liked it. If I can make a small, unimportant dig at the movie, how many working-class Pittsburgh bars in 1987 would have “Pale Blue Eyes” on the jukebox?

    As for Kristen Stewart, I didn’t think she was exactly the right actress for the role, but she was OK. While she just didn’t look like the kind of girl who would own an original copy of Radio City in 1987, she’s cute in a way that would appeal to Jesse Eisenberg’s character.

    Martin Starr doing “Bill Haverchuck – The College Years” was my favorite part.

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