Sep 20, 2009

Adventureland Review


image from Amazon.com


Premise:

It's the summer of 1987, fashion is nerdy, financial status of the community is high, but dwindling, and Ronald Reagan is president. James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is pumped up and ready to go to Europe for the Summer on his parent's bill, and then to a fancy Ivy league college after that. Bad news for James, the main bacon-bringer, dad got a huge pay decrease and can afford none of this. So James gets a Summer job at local theme park Adventureland, where his boss is played by Bill Hader, and the playboy mechanic is Ryan Reynolds.


Standouts:
The acting is pretty exemplary all around, though being a dramedy (drama+comedy) there will be evident jumping around of who's good at what roll. For example, Bill Hader and Jesse Eisenberg, even at their most human moments, feel like naturally comedic writers. Hader was at least written to bring the comedic moments into the film, but watching Eisenberg try to be serious, you feel like it's all leading up to one hilarious moment of failure, which sparingly ever comes in the film. In contrast, Ryan Reynolds and Kristen Stewart actually understood human emotion and made you feel. This mismatching seems to make the movie's tone very chaotic and confusing on how to react. Little things like apparel, props, and lighting can be appraised for those with a keen eye for it, but I really find myself adding any other positives about the film.


My Highlights:
Take a nerdy Jesse Eisenberg on the run from an angry bully, and arm Bill Hader with a metal baseball bat to come to the rescue. What you have will be the greatest scene of the movie by-far.


Overall Rating:
Firstly, I must state before hand for those who will potentially disagree with me, that I'm not a fan of dramedies. I wholly approve of Black Comedies like the Showtime hit, Weeds, because you watch it and feel as though you're watching a comedy that has some very serious moments in it, even if the "lol" jokes are spaced out. Even normal comedies should have some drama in them, otherwise you would have no conflict. And something that can hurt a comedy is to not sell the drama you write for your characters, but I digress. If you look at any good drama in comparison, you have comedic moments. Rarely can you make your audience utterly depressed from start to finish without any break, due to you exhausting the emotional spectrum. So a good movie, no matter the genre, should have a little bit of everything. A Dramedy, by my definition, is an overly-sold comedy to the point you can't laugh at anyone's failures, so all you get is a very awkward, squirmy abomination that is neither comedy, nor drama.

As for Adventureland, I can only give it 2 3/4 *'s out of 5 *'s. It drew me in, it had its special moments, but I found myself struggling to sit through all of it. That's a disappointing reaction considering the film is only an hour and forty-seven minutes. I was especially uninterested after the first hour. Now, doing the math, out of 100 I gave this film a 55. Rottentomatoes.com gave this film an 89, which is a ridiculous jump. This film was promoted on mainly one thing - it was written and directed by Greg Mottola, who also directed Superbad. But it's clear that the writers of Superbad, as well as producer Judd Apatow, are what made that movie, and movies like it what they were, not Mottola.

Stick to your day job of directing Greg Mottola.


When You Should See It:
I don't typically advise anyone to make an effort seeing a film I rate under 3 *'s, so there's no rush at all. If you're a big fan of Dramedies, or want to own the whole film family connected to Superbad - anything starring/written by Seth Rogen, anything produced by Judd Apatow, and anything directed by Greg Mottola, then sure, add this to your collection. This movie might be a collector's dream, but for me, it was a potential star that fell like a bomb.

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