Friday, April 3, 2009

Film review: Adventureland

I really enjoy going to the movies by myself. I know it's weird according to most people, but then again, I hate most people, so they can get bent.

I heard about Adventureland a few months back, and when I saw some of the talent involved I was definitely interested in seeing it. Greg Mottola, the director, was at the helm for Superbad, and the cast included some great SNL members (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig) as well as Ryan Reynolds, who I just can't help but like. His acting chops might seem slightly pedestrian, but his comic timing is really impeccable. If you don't believe me, go see Just Friends again.

I won't retread the entire movie, but basically the main character James (played perfectly awkward by Jesse Eisenberg) gets his post-college trip to Europe shot down when his parents can't spare the money, and he's forced into a job at nearby amusement hellhole Adventureland. Like a lot of these movies, the supporting players are predictable: dorky guy, hot chick, know-it-all older guy, crazy owners, etc. What sets this film apart are the nuances and acting chops everyone brings to the table. This isn't the slapstick/pseudo-improv comedy that's become all the rage lately (though a punch to the crotch will always bring the LOL) but it doesn't need to be. Everyone knows who their characters are and really become them, which is what true acting talent is.

The film takes places in 1987, and it's obvious Mottola (who also wrote the screenplay based on his own experiences) has an affinity for that time; the soundtrack, wardrobe, it all comes together quite well. Not only is the film set in the 80s, it genuinely feels like an "80s movie"; John Cusack would be the lead for this twenty years ago, no question. Kristen Stewart as the love interest would have been far from my first choice; I don't see her becoming a good actress any time soon, if ever. But that played to the advantage of the story arc a little bit, because her character is pretty moody and emotionless for the majority of her screen time. Still, my seventeen-year-old self would have been in love with her because she listens to Husker Du and calls people on their bullshit. But I digress.

This has definitely moved towards the top of my Favorite Films of '09, which might be a bit premature, but as far as good comedies go, it's a winner. Go see it.