Sunday, April 5, 2009

April 5- Wait! I Thought It Was A Comedy...

You may have heard this very phrase, and other similar ones, come from the mouths of many theatergoers stepping out of the movie "Adventureland", from the makers of the cult classic, "Superbad".  Probably the biggest mistake made by advertisers promoting this film, besides the misleading commercials, was to tag it with "Superbad".  I must admit that personally, when I saw "Superbad" (starring Michael Cera and Jonah Hill), I thought it was vulgar and pretty "unfunny". However, I must also say that to this day, after watching the movie over 20 times, it is one of my favorites. I cannot give the same hope of future redeem-ability to "Adventureland". This new film is far too dark and layered with the sexual frustration, weed and alcohol abuse, and the tunes of Lou Reed to come anywhere near the type of comedy "Superbad" was. 

Seeing as the day before viewing "Adventureland" was my 17th birthday, I wanted to buy my first R movie ticket as a legal 17 year old for a movie I looked forward to seeing. I wouldn't say that I didn't enjoy the movie, that I didn't laugh, or that I wasted 10 bucks, but it definitely wasn't the movie I bargained for. 

The film is set in 1987 and centers on James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), "James" to some, "Brennan" to others. We'll call him James. James has just graduated from college and is about to got backpacking across Europe with his rich best friend, planning to spend the next year of his life attending graduate school at Columbia. Sounds awesome, right? But not for long. James' mom drops the bomb that his father has been transferred to a lower-paying job and instead of Europe and Columbia, James can find a crap job and attempt to pay for grad school himself. Crap. James lands on a job at Adventureland, a summer-long run theme park that locates itself somewhere in the dreary wasteland of Upstate New York (or is it Jersey?) James falls in love with Em (Kristen Stewart), and from then on any vivaciousness in the environment is sucked out by Stewart's darkness... 

Aventureland is populated with some great characters, like Joel (Martin Starr) who not only plays the sweet Jewish nerd, but also brings nostalgia for Starr's character of Bill on the prematurely cancelled "Freaks and Geeks". There's also the park managers, played by Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig , who share hilarious chemistry. But these characters are not developed very well. The main plot line becomes so over-focussed that it's just...boring. 

James is pining over Em, who is sleeping with Adventureland's badass (Ryan Reynolds), who, incidentally, is a married man. Also, Em's mother has recently died of cancer and her stepmother is evil. Basically, she is really messed up. Even thought Kirsten Stewart does not spur one single laugh throughout the course of the film, and even though Jesse Eisenberg holds no charm, but only pity from the audience, somehow we are supposed to be rooting for their relationship. Not here. The chemistry was dead, the situation over-strained, the conclusion depressing, and the entire project unfruitful.

But, if you're into depressing movies about virginal failures attempting to get laid while in love with pits of despair, complete with retro costumes and a Lou Reed soundtrack, then be my guest! "Adventureland" is just for you.

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