Last night, I went to an advance screening of the latest film from Greg Mottola (director of Superbad): Adventureland. I must say I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I think going into a film with little or no expectations is the best way to go into anything. I’m starting to agree with Jeff Cannata that trailers somewhat ruin the movie-going experience. Some of the TV Spots nearly ruined some of the jokes in the film for me. In Adventureland a young college grad who needs to earn some moola for the summer for his next year at grad school finds work at a local amusement park where he has a bunch of, dare I say it, adventures. The film is being advertised as a comedy of sorts, even being compared to Superbad (in the case of the director) but I would not list this film so much as a “comedic movie” but more of a “coming-of-age/feel good movie.” The best part of the film was probably the performances from Jesse Eisenberg (James) and the adult cast and the weaker points came from the final moments of the film and the lackluster performance from Kristen Stewart.
First and foremost, Adventureland is very well directed with a well-written script. It’s not comedic genius or Oscar-winning but it’s a very solid script. Some of the character arcs were a bit underdeveloped, but the jokes were spot on at times, there are some definite LOL moments. It just didn’t have much to set it above anything else in its genre. Still, it was a pleasure to watch and I really enjoyed the development that did happen with some of the characters, however subtle it was. Everyone in the cast, aside from Kristen, was fantastic and spot on and I loved their performances. Bill Hader as the owner of Adventureland was fantastic. One day I wish to have a boss like him. Newcomer Jesse Eisenberg carried the film on his shoulders for me.
When I first watched Jesse Eisenberg in the opening of the film I definitely thought of Michael Cera. They both play around with the awkward humor bit (or perhaps that’s just the director, who also has credits in Arrested Development, starring Michael Cera). While they both have similar humor and comedic timing, I feel Eisenberg brings something new to his awkward humor. He wasn’t exactly anti-social or self-conscious; in fact, his character was quite cool and well rounded. Perhaps, though, that’s a bad thing because it leaves little room for the character to arc. Still though, Eisenberg did very well in the role and was extremely likeable and definitely watchable.
The only thing I’ve seen Kristen Stewart before Adventureland was in the trailer of Catch That Kid, her cameo in Jumper and most recently, of course, Twilight. Her performance in Adventureland was so very similar to her performance in Twilight, almost all the way down to the beat. She stumbles over her lines when her character is feeling uncomfortable, which worked for Bella Swan in Twilight, but not for Em Lewin in Adventureland. It was really the nuances of her performance that nagged at me because, yes I’ll get flamed for saying this but … I liked Twilight and saw it twice in theaters (burn me at the stake why don’t you). Because I saw that movie twice I was able to really pick apart the way Kristen handled her role and one of the things I enjoyed the most was her nuances like pulling up her hair out of her face and stuttering over uncomfortable lines or having a monotonous tone because, to me, that was the character of Bella I imagined from the book but in Adventureland all of those same things she did irked me so much. I really hope this doesn’t meant that she’s a bad actress and whenever she plays a character she’s just playing herself because I think I really want to like her, there is something about her. But in this film I really just didn’t feel much for her character even though I thought Em was written very well.
I really liked the relationship between the two leads (James & Em), but I felt the chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart was lacking at some key moments and that was mostly the fault of Kristen herself. But Kristen did have some moments that made me smiling and say “awww” inside my heart, especially at [SPOILER] when they first kiss and then break apart and she shyly looks away [END SPOILER]. But all and all I don’t think I could feel the two-way relationship. All the emotion I felt was from Eisenberg’s character and the only way I felt anything for Stewart’s character is because she was given such good lines to work with but whenever she pulled the Bella-Twilight performances I was immediately aware that I was watching a performance. Also, since I’m on the subject of the relationship between the two leads, I found myself comparing the two to Josh Peck and Olivia Thirlby in The Wackness, which is a movie I enjoyed a whole lot more than this one (not to knock it or anything but The Wackness and just pure dopeness).
Another weak point of the film is how it wrapped up, especially that very last shot and last scene, which was a bit anticlimactic, for me. The ending was certainly decent and safe but it didn’t have the same balls as The Wackness did. Also the revelation that the main character has is revealed in a pretty lame way, I thought. The rest of the film was really great though, it just had a bit of a rocky ending for me.
So all and all I would recommend this film, as a rental. I don’t know how I feel about comedies and watching them in the theater. I can never see a reason why. The cinematography was decent but nothing so mind-blowing that you just have to see it on the big screen. If I hadn’t gone to an advance screening for free I would not have paid $8-$12 dollars to watch it. MY VERDIT: A GREAT RENTAL or a lazy afternoon with friends if you have an extra few bucks for a matinee.
Oh and I was pretty irked that Lisa P’s best friend Kelly was the only black person in the film and she played the part of the “sidekick” to the hot white chick. That just irked me a little bit.