(Greg Mottola, 2009)
As I Twertered previously, it’s hard to be neutral, since I’m completely in the tank for this teen romantic comedy.
- Grew up in suburban Pittsburgh, and had a yearly school picnic at Kennywood, the amusement park this movie was filmed at. My nostalgia runneth over – ah, the classic wooden Thunderbolt…the heartattack-on-a-dish Potato Patch fries….the double dip on the Jack Rabbit where you felt like you were flying to your death….my sister getting her arm stuck in the ride on the water flume. Okay, so not all are GOOD memories.
- My final trip to the park was 1986, a year before this film is set. I recognized some of those awful fashions a mile off. Skintight acid wash rolled jeans. Ultra-white hightop tennies. Non-ironic ringer tees and mullets. Pathetically recognizable.
- A predilection towards alternative/college rock or whatever it was called at the time. The mid-80’s was a time when bands started getting signed to major labels in droves, only to be dumped by same companies in the mid-90’s. Kicking off the movie with “Bastards of Young”? Come on! A cute teenage girl wearing Lou Reed and Husker Du gear? What am I, made of wood?
This is a film steeped in just such reminiscences, and happily, it’s mild on quirk and raunch, staples of director Greg Mottola’s previous work, 1996’s The Daytrippers and 2007’s Superbad.
Adventureland mines the territory of such films as The Graduate as it explores college-age kids figuring out their own screwed-up lives as well as how to win the heart of another. The leads (Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart) are sweetly convincing. There are also great supporting performances throughout, namely, Martin Starr as a sullen, smartass geek with a penchant for Russian literature.
But it stumbles badly down the stretch, as if it had been written into a corner. You just know James (Eisenberg) and Em (Stewart) are slated for — SPOILER!!– a final encounter in NYC, but it’s not as deftly handled as the majority of their relationship. It feels too neat and tacked on, and I wished for a do-over.
Mostly, though, Adventureland delivers, not unlike those Potato Patch fries. They’re positively Homer-ific.