Adventureland (2009)

 photo adventureland2_zpsba32efca.jpg photo 2_zps22a48e6e.pngAdventureland was not what I was expecting. I had been pretty sure it was a kids’ fantasy film. Instead, Adventureland is a coming–of–age film of a summer in 1987 where Jesse Eisenberg1 and Kristen Stewart get together while working in Adventureland, which is an amusement park. There are a lot of fun and not as fun people, they get high a lot and enjoy their summer, as much as you can do it with working a shitty job with long hours and no motivation.

It doesn’t take long, though, until it becomes clear the film is more complex, the characters have actual big issues (Stewart sleeping with a married man–douche, what’s up with that?) and they’re not just the surface. Adventureland distinctly promises a film with a deeper meaning, and I think that is what ultimately failed this film.

They simply didn’t follow through. There were interesting characters introduced with promising storylines, but for some reason, from around the hour mark, the film started to downgrade itself. I’ll give this film this: it really and truly tried to be The Breakfast Club. It did. Maybe if not an A, I’d give this film a B for effort. They scooped some of it back for the ending, and it would have truly been a great one if instead of reducing themselves to the teen drama, they would have continued with the real coming–of–age themes.

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Now, if this film hadn’t promised us the complexity, nobody would’ve even asked. The start felt like a feel–good film, where there’s perfectly okay to flow through the summer, sometimes smoking a lot of pot, sometimes less. But they didn’t, they gave us Ryan Reynolds’ and Stewart’s fucked up romance, Eisenberg’s issues with university and future. And so all this resulted in nothing truly interesting or captivating happening during the 100–minute course of the film.

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I think the performances were a great part of this film. Now, yes, there’s Kristen Stewart above this sentence, please don’t freak out. I think Stewart is actually a good actress (just watch On the Road or The Runaways) and she was good here, too. Eisenberg surprised with being less cocky, but struggled with it. Bill Hader was awesome here, and if Reynolds’ assignment was to make me hate his smug face, he succeeded. The actors are good. The problem is that the characters aren’t.

This is again the same problem with the film: they barely scratched the surface on their personalities, while giving some interesting storylines. One or the other would have been fine, but Mottola can’t seem to decide if he wants this film to be soul–searching or just fun, so he tries both, but ultimately accomplishes neither. That’s what makes the otherwise great ending unsatisfying: there was no journey.

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Plot: In the summer of 1987, a college graduate takes a ‘nowhere’ job at his local amusement park, only to find it’s the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world. via IMDb.
Director: Greg Mottola
Writer: Greg Mottola
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds

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1  Second film where Eisenberg gets dumped in the beginning of a film, and he’s not even that much of a jerk as in The Social Network. Poor guy.

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18 responses to “Adventureland (2009)

  1. Good review Elina. It was a nice piece of nostalgia, however, that seems to be all that it has really going for it after awhile. It wants to be somewhat insightful, but just can’t help focusing too much on the 80’s aspect surrounding its story.

    • Uh, should’ve added that, I also really felt that. Like, if compared with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the latter was set in the 90s but it wasn’t the main point. Here, the age really pushed to be the most important part.

  2. Yay, you’ve got your rating system! (I’m a little embarrassed to say I love Diet Coke. I know it’s horrible for you, and I should stop drinking it, but I can’t.) I liked Adventureland, it was sweet, and one of the few times where Stewart’s awkwardness actually fits the film. Great review!

  3. I’m SO not fond of Kristen Stewart, that’s one of the reasons I haven’t checked this one out.

    • Have you seen Runaways? This was the film where I really started liking her. But she can be pretty horrible, too (ugh, Snow White?) I wish I could say you’re missing out, but I can actually think of five films to see instead of this off the top of my head. It’s nothing special, more of a disappointment.

  4. This is one of those movies where Stewart’s performance was actually good and fitting. Based on what I’ve seen, I think she fares better in smaller works rather than big productions.

  5. Nice rating system but man, I liked this movie much more than you did and I hate Kristen Stewart! 😀

    • Of similar films, I prefer Breakfast Club or Perks any time haha. And I don’t know why the review turned out so negative, I actually liked this the film 😀 Oh, and thanks!! 😛

  6. I actually liked Adventureland but it’s certainly not the best movie to take on the coming-of-age story. It was released after and heavily marketed from the makers of Superbad so expectations were that it would be a huge laugh out loud comedy but that’s not really what it was going for. I liked enough of the actors in it that I still liked it though. I do agree with you that no one was asking for it to go deeper, and they didn’t really approach it well enough to be something as effective as Perks or The Breakfast Club. Great review!

    • The descriptions for your rating system crack me up! I love cherry coke too.

      • Ooh, thanks, I’m glad! It might come off a bit weird, though, since why is one can of Coke bad… but well, the point gets across and that’s all I need. Great that you like Cherry Coke, too, heheh. 😉

    • I don’t know if I was way more coherent than I thought or if you can read my mind, but yes to everything! I love Eisenberg, even with his doucheyness, he made much of this film for me. Thank you, Jess!

  7. Nice review! I had the same issues with Adventureland, and mostly watched it because it was filmed in my hometown theme park, Kennywood. The movie is fun, but it lacks that something special. Bill Hader’s freak-out on the teenage boys was by far my favorite scene.

  8. New rating system? Like it 🙂 I was considering checking this out but primarily for Kristen Stewart as, well, I like her face 🙂

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