Written & Directed By: Greg Mottola
Cinematography By: Terry Stacey
Editor: Anne McCabe
Original Music By: Yo La Tengo
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig, Margarita Levieva, Wendie Malick, Matt Bush, Michael Zegen, Kevin Breznahan, Josh Pais, Eric Schaeffer
In 1987, James Brennan’s dreams of a summer European tour before studying at an Ivy League school in New York City are ruined after his parents have a severe career setback. As a result, James must get a summer job to cover his upcoming expenses at the decrepit local amusement park, Adventureland, where he falls in love with a witty co-worker, Emily Lewin. In that bizarrely shady workplace, the young carnies have unforgettable and painful learning experiences about life, love and trust while James discovers what he truly values.
The parks name “Adventureland” is an actual amusement park in Farmingdale, Long Island, not far from where the writer/director grew up.
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.
This is a film that gets better each time you watch it. As when I first saw it I felt it was only ok, but in subsequent views it gets better each time as one can see different aspects and little details you might have missed before. not a perfect film but it is pretty good.
As the credits start this film seeks to be rebellious. Playing the replacements bastards of young. To set the time, place and mood. To show this is an outsiders tale and not conventional to a degree.
The music cues seem just a little bit on point. Which is good as it shows this has been stirring for quite a while as it comes off as semi-Autobiogrpahical but can easily send the wrong message. Like a lothario on a date who has managed to have just the right song play at just the right moment for maximum emotional vulnerability.
It is also hard to face that what you remember as youth is over 20 years ago and is of course the past but not even considered the recent past but more history What works here is that the film seems more presented as a broad comedy and that is certainly the case with the owners played by Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig but also they like the rest of the characters feel lived in. Not so much caricatures, but actual people. Which might be why as funny as they are the characters never have a defining scene or go so over the top with their characters. That they seem like this is a natural part of their behavior.
You have the co-workers and friends who hang around. Who while they might not exactly match people from your past you know the type. Even capturing the amusement park hottie, who is so beautiful you never thought you might have a chance with though constantly flirts. Here the character does and we see no matter what. He never necessarily would have been successful with her. Even long term glamour girl crush Lisa P played by Margarita Levieva. who plays her played a similar character in the movie SPREAD. Only here the character is more lighthearted and not quite as jaded.
What happened it seems is that the audience might have been looking for a repeat of the same type of film the director’s previous film had been. SUPERBAD, which was realistic to a degree but also was a broad comedy that had moments that all of us could identify with as well as some surrealistic touches.
This film seems so much more deeper with bits of comedy an easy going vibe but also a seriousness to it.
Kristen Stewart as the girl who is cool and just like one of the guys and is attractive yet she never quite see’s it and makes bad decisions and is hung up on someone who doesn’t feel the same while blind to the guy who is good for her but seems more as a confidante and besides he has his eye on the more vapid beauty who has a soft spot for him, but more for the attention he gives her though has no plans on ever letting it go too far.
Look at the dynamics Kristen Stewart’s character who is like one of the guys cool yet all the guys have crushes on her and once they find out about her secret relationship. She is almost like stained to them. They talk to her but don’t seem to see her the same way. She has lost her luster though she is the same person she was before. Which seemed to mirror the actresses popularity with fans. After twilight when she was still seeing her co-star from the film it was like she was the next big thing every film seemed to want her to star. Then once they broke up and in the manner it happened. While she still gets work, for awhile it was like she was tarnished which seems unfair. As it is supposed to be more about the work
This is one of those movies of the summer that changed someone’s life where they grew up and learned lessons and would never be the same after, but rather then set it in high school it is set at that time right after high school but before college. So a late coming of age film. Though the way these films are set up it is more your first taste of maturity, but tends to not mention the first taste of freedom and the emotional and social highs and lows you will go through during college and your twenties until you right yourself. As these films. Want to be more of a snapshot at your last time of true innocence.
I give this film credit we have seen this type of film and story before but this one seems genuine as it gets the audience to care and feel something. That isn’t as manipulative as there are many films of this sort that try and fail as they feel more like manipulation and like they following a formula. This film while a studio film feels more independent and no frills. So it’s not as corporate and it helps that the big moments aren’t given a spotlight. They are more treated like everyday occurances where you just get wise or used to something
It would be too easy to say a character like Ryan Reynolds is too good looking for the role, but they is what works. His character realizes he is getting older. Yet he is still looked up to by younger people and while he is very good looking hat is enough to impress young girls but when pressed into taking responsibility he runs. Though for all his good looks, he is way too good looking. Yet still stuck. In a rut as in life or in general you see these beautiful people who you think should be models and they are working the produce department at your grocery store. Or you think they should be married to a sheik, but here hey are asking you if you want anymore wine at the bar in the hotel where a fiends birthday party is taking place. On other word looks don’t define the character or person not an Hollywood invention. It just is one of the few things that is plausible that Hollywood films offers up sometimes
Look at Instagram and Facebook with so many good looking people and they are still wannabe models and actors and actresses and in this film we are dealing with the 80’s when there weren’t as many outlets so many had to just settle for their lot in life.
This is also right when Jessie Eisenberg still felt fresh. You were used to him playing these types of roles but while smart could still see him as naive, before he grew up I to roles where he seemed more diabolical, uncaring, pretentious and snobby. In his early roles he felt like he had the potential but also a sweet side. The niceness seems to have diminished in his roles Ever since. As he likes to play the nice guy, but comes off as more calculated and with less heart more cerebral and clinical
The film has the hallmarks it requires as it has notable songs of the past in the soundtrack that work within the scenes they are placed in that kind of set the mood, tone and texture of the scene and give it the emotion the filmmaker seeks even if the dialogue and pacing might not work in the audience the song will. As the songs are also meant to bring up memories for the audience to drift and have emotional connections to as they are popular to a degree especially for a certain generation.
As obviously these songs have an emotional significance for the writer-director Greg Mottola they seem to be footnoted that he intends for the audience to feel also. Not forcing it on us he is more trying to accommodate us.
A total of 41 songs were licensed for use in the film, but only 14 made the film’s accompanying soundtrack. Most songs used are from the 1980’s but to fit the time frame songs from the 1960’s and 1970’s were also utilized.
We also see that Kristen Stewart character isn’t all that put together mentally as she likes to seem. She makes mistakes second guesses herself. Behaving like her decisions are for the best even though she kind of knows they are not the best but feels good at the time.
It’s interesting though that she is treated as a tragic character. Where as Jesse Eisenberg’s character who is almost as guilty at making bad decisions and messing up just not as successful at it is treated more as misguided but imam guessing as the film is more from his point of view it is more rose colored in his vision. Though does showcase a double standard that we all know there is in the world.
As Once others find out she messed with the cool lots too all those who crushed on her and thought she was cool see her as stair be and treat her he same way. A kind of slit shaming for her not fitting into their ideal.
The tone of the scenes seems to hold back on any excitement and energy so that it feels more low energy yet saturated.
They are growing closer and seem Lori a natural pairing though each doesn’t want to move forward. So it is good enough until the local beauty comes around where she is more like a jewel he decides he must possess as she shows interest and seems more the type he would want to be with as she portrays herself as classy