I had been looking forward to seeing Adventureland for a while now. I missed it in theaters, so I had been waiting with heavy anticipation for the DVD release. And now it’s out and I got to say…worth the wait.
Being Greg Mottola’s follow up touch more subtle humor, with less shock mentality.
The humor in Adventureland is more dexterous and relies more on the actors’ prowess rather than superficial or showy gags (again, I loved Superbad, but it is what it is). For instance, it’s brought to the viewers attention that Eisenberg’s James is a virgin. In films of this persuasion a revelation of this sort would then launch the film into the “gotta lose it” territory, but Adventureland takes the high roller coaster track and avoids such clichés.
I’m a recent recruit into the Jesse Eisenberg Fan Club. He is gradually becoming the go-to everyman/everyboy actor, and he crushes every role he’s in. And Adventureland is no exception. He is, essentially, what makes this a great film. The awkwardness and apprehension that he conveys is astounding, but he still manages to pull off an air of confidence and make it believable. Luckily, Eisenberg is capable of carrying the weight of a film, because not every performance was as stellar.
Now the above statement isn’t exactly fair, because I really only take issue with one performance, and that is Kristen Stewart’s. She has little to no depth and I’m fairly certain she only has two expressions (happy and surprised). It was nice to see, however, that she has traded twirling her hair nervously for biting her nails (somebody get this kid some Paxil).
And as good as Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader were in their scenes, it was a smart move to limit their screen time, lest it become too slapsticky.
The story is a simple one, set in a simple time, fraught with simple problems. That is, of course, if you consider girl problems to be simple. James, fresh off of a break up, meets Stewart’s Emily, who seems to take an almost instant liking to him. The story is thematically sound as we see a range of emotions (not from Stewart so much) such as happiness, disappointment, and the feeling one gets when their affections are unrequited. Pretty straight forward storytelling, with very few surprises, but the manner in which things unfold makes it all worth while.
The special features are limited, but Adventureland isn’t a film likely to produce much in that department. A few Hader and Wiig deleted scenes, a commentary track and a “making of featurette” are really all there is. Again, few people will rent it, watch it and then look feverishly for the special features. Would it have been nice to see an outtake or gag reel…sure. I’m sure that will make the 10th Anniversary Adventureland: Ring Toss Edition.
I entered this viewing experience tainted with the Jesse Eisenberg virus, but I don’t think it influenced my view of the film. It was a solid movie, made by a talented director, and starring a handful of fascinating actors. With its inconspicuous humor and astute story, Adventureland separates itself from other “summer job” comedies.
Well worth viewing; I give it a 4 out of 5 pitchforks.