Ain't It Cool News (www.aintitcool.com)
Review

Harry loved his admission to ADVENTURELAND!

I saw ADVENTURELAND today - and it was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Not a yuck fest, but a genuine story with heart, soul that doesn't take itself deadly serious, but has enough emotional weight to feel like it could actually take place in our real world. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT IS! I love SUPERBAD, but on repeated viewings, I find myself wishing the GAG quotient was lowered, and the heart and friendships and relationships were more solidly nurtured. I found ADVENTURELAND to be a far superior film to SUPERBAD. For one - I like that this isn't a film about High School kids, but a slightly older crowd. I like how it is kinda structured like DIRTY DANCING, in the way that it is one young character's transformative Summer experience in that Summer of 1987. The fun thing is, here you are... 1987, but it isn't really a NOSTALGIA TRIP flick, it wears its period without beating you over the head with it. The songs are what really clue you in, that and the hairstyles and clothes. But these characters are not talking about Lethal Weapon, Predator, Princess Bride. They're not chatting about THE COSBY SHOW, A DIFFERENT WORLD, CHEERS or ALF. You see Reagan on a TV, but it isn't a joke. This film is focused on the characters and who they are - and they're not your self-aware media junkie geeks flipping through comics and movies. Our lead is James Brennan played perfectly by Jesse Eisenberg. This is a less overtly awkward Michael Cera type, but older. He is a college graduate, in transition between college and seeking a Graduate degree in Journalism - after majoring in Renaissance studies. He also happens to be a Virgin. Not an inept one, but one of choice. He's had opportunities, but his love of Renaissance literature has given him a lovesick fascination with true love. Although peer pressure and his own natural attraction and desire for intercourse... well, it is on his mind. This isn't another of those comedic romps about getting laid, though that is the overall arc of this story. It's more about real human types that take a summer job at a theme park like ADVENTURELAND and what that summer could very well have been like. I found the story to be very honest feeling. You don't have ridiculous over the top disgusting gags for laughs' sake. The drugs and drinking isn't about stereotypes with half-closed eyes acting like burn-outs... But about sharing a single joint after work to take the edge off - and the kinds of conversations that these types of people would have. And they're not about aliens, movies or those sorts of things. But about the things that people really want to talk about. Sometimes - those things are hilarious. Sometimes they're tragically revealing. People get hurt in this film and some triumph. This is a film that has a shared soul with movies like AMERICAN GRAFFITI and DAZED & CONFUSED, though not nearly as GREAT as those films - at least not upon a single reflection. The cast is wonderful. I dare you to not lust after Margarita Levieva's Lisa P or not fall a little in love with Kirsten Stewart's Em. These are not perfect types, but characters that surprise you with their flaws and their merits. Martin Starr is again masterful as a wonderful Nikolai Gogol and other Soviet literature. He smokes a pipe and is acutely self-aware that his major prepared him for isolation and self-loathing, which in turn leaves him frustrated. I know I'm describing a film that feels like a downer, but it isn't. I LOVED spending the summer with these characters. I loved how there are no overt VILLAINS, only mistakes that flawed humans make and then chose to forgive or be condemned by. I honestly feel we need more movies like this that help with the balance. I enjoy the silly goofy crap, but it doesn't inspire a generation to anything but losing itself in mediocrity and the science of distraction. This film feels honest, sweet and funny. That may not be as marketably cool as "from the creator of SUPERBAD," but it is a very very worthwhile film experience.

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • March 10, 2009, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Not first

    by Tell_Your_Mom_I_Said_Hi

    Corn dogs clog arteries. Stay the hell away with that devil food.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:36 a.m. CST

    Awesome

    by seppukudkurosawa

    Sounds like a sequel to Freaks & Geeks. Which I loved, so I'm down like a freshly-tipped cow for this movie when it comes out.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:53 a.m. CST

    Great Review

    by Sparhawk38

    I want to see it.

  • March 10, 2009, 9:15 a.m. CST

    Adventureland

    by Series7

    I don't think I heard a single sexual reference or any dick and fart jokes in that whole review. Surely this can't be from the guy who director Superbad....OH wait it doesn't have Seth Rogen in it that's why it has heart and a story.

  • March 10, 2009, 9:34 a.m. CST

    nice restraint

    by Himbo

    Harry, thank you focusing on the film, and not your own "Summer of 87" experience (whatever that was).

  • March 10, 2009, 9:59 a.m. CST

    greg mottola

    by palinode

    Don't forget that Mottola directed Daytrippers long before Superbad. That was a great film.

  • March 10, 2009, 10:43 a.m. CST

    superbad is awesome

    by supercowbell4therequestformorecowbell

    you know this to be true

  • March 10, 2009, 10:44 a.m. CST

    WHAT'S THE DAYTRIPPERS ABOUT? I'LL TELL YOU...

    by 1978CreepyThinMan

    It's about an hour and a half of my life THAT I WILL NEVER GET BACK!!!

  • March 10, 2009, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Damn Harry liked this!

    by Xiphos_2

    Fuck, now I need to way dial down my expectations which sucks because I was looking forward to this one.

  • March 10, 2009, 10:53 a.m. CST

    Either way...

    by Randall Flagg

    There's nothing so bad that Martin Starr can't make watchable. I had no interest in this until I heard he was in it.

  • March 10, 2009, 11:07 a.m. CST

    This movie is fucking awful.

    by zb.brox

    Seriously. If there was ever proof that Harry just loves everything, this is it. If you ever wanted to watch a standard 80s teen/young adult comedy, except without the charm of a John Cusack or a Molly Ringwald, and remove everything that's funny, buy a ticket. The only funny parts are the grand total of about seven minutes that Bill Hader gets to talk, and Ryan Reynolds is worth watching in his 15 minutes of screen time. Beyond that, it's a vaguely pretentious snoozefest peppered with occasional "jokes" that mostly stem from characters that are pale imitations of the wacky friends in funnier movies. It's pretty well-made--I can't fault the direction, and the actors aren't *bad*, they're just forced to play insufferable characters. I'll admit, there's probably a few people out there who have enough nostalgia for the days when their lives sucked that they'll find the film moving. Not me, I'm afraid. Greg Mottola clearly has a lot of talent--Superbad and his TV work prove that. But the material he's written here just isn't worth his skills as a director.

  • March 10, 2009, 11:26 a.m. CST

    WTF is Harry talking about?

    by D.Vader

    "Martin Starr is again masterful as a wonderful Nikolai Gogol and other Soviet literature." <p> Martin Starr playing Gogol? And then goes on to play actual books? <p> Seriously, Harry, what the fuck... I assume you mean he majors in such things, but good god, edit these things.

  • March 10, 2009, 2:18 p.m. CST

    So it's a chaste Superbad?

    by Darthkrusty

  • March 10, 2009, 2:58 p.m. CST

    FOR ONCE, HARRY IS RIGHT

    by booth77

    After all the godawful shit he told me to go see: Transformers, Eagle Eye, Indiana Jones 4, and just about every other Shia Labeouf crapfest... This time, he got it right. I saw Adventureland at Sundance, and it was great. Really fun movie with a lot of heart. Can't wait to see it again.

  • March 10, 2009, 3:51 p.m. CST

    paige howard

    by loquaciousmuse

    how was paige??? the redhead!!!

  • March 10, 2009, 5:13 p.m. CST

    I love Superbad

    by hallmitchell

    and the more I watch it. I like it just as much. I'm looking forward to this.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:45 p.m. CST

    I hope they play some Whitesnake

    by hallmitchell

    1987 Great album. My fist will be in the air if they do.

  • March 10, 2009, 10:28 p.m. CST

    Superbad is a classic

    by criticalbliss

    It DOES have emotional weight. So, if Adventureland isn't the equal of Dazed and Confused, then it sure as hell isn't "better than" Superbad. Fuck, Harry. Even you can do better than this.

  • March 10, 2009, 11:53 p.m. CST

    Wears it's period without beating you over the head with it

    by tatoosh

    Unlike my wife. Zing!

  • March 11, 2009, 7:17 a.m. CST

    tatoosh you are a comedy genius!

    by Potatino

  • March 11, 2009, 10 a.m. CST

    Not to sound like I have a vendetta here...

    by zb.brox

    ...cause the only thing this movie did to me was greatly disappoint me--but this movie is *not* as good as fucking Superbad. Superbad managed to have emotional weight while still being fucking hilarious. This movie does not manage that. The emotional weight is undone by how utterly boring the characters are, and the movie just isn't very funny. Not that it tries and fails (though there is a little of that), but it barely ever tries.

  • March 11, 2009, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Superbad: Academy of the Overrated

    by christian66

    Geeks are so easy to please. Tit and period gags followed by a moment of false "heart" = CLASSIC!

  • March 11, 2009, 3:04 p.m. CST

    Hmm "people get hurt" did they bring back Steel Phantom?

    by wowsucks

    hahaha, for anyone who gets it. I miss that head banger.

  • March 12, 2009, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Christian66

    by RipVanMarlowe

    Love the MANHATTAN reference. That film never gets old.

  • March 25, 2009, 4:16 a.m. CST

    Why Britney is dating at richpassion.com?

    by iamalice1

    So does some other celebrities,Hilton,sheen,Macdonna...are dating online too,but i am not sure which site they are using...

  • March 30, 2009, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Need screenwriters credit on 2 1/2 Men

    by tatoosh

    Zing!

  • March 31, 2009, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Check yourself, Harry

    by ecm

    I've seen this a lot on the web. People keep saying its from the creator of Superbad. Its not. Its only the director. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg did write this picture or have anything to do with it.Is not even an Apatow film. It's only the dirsctor.

  • April 9, 2009, 3:03 p.m. CST

    Testing line breaks

    by BuckminsterOhare

    Here <p> goes<p>