Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart
Bobby: Hey, Brennan, I wanna talk with you. Wanna pick up some extra shifts?
James: Yeah, sure.
Bobby: Good, cause Joel quit.
Paulette: He’s passed on.
Bobby: He MOVED on, honey…he didn’t pass on…he moved on.
It’s 1987, and James Brennan (Eisenberg) hopes to head off to college in New York in the Fall after going on a long vacation in Europe over the Summer. This is all derailed, though, when he finds out that his parents’ financial troubles won’t allow them to pay for his trip. They also won’t be able to pay for him to live in New York, so he must get a summer job and save some money. The job he gets is at an amusement park called Adventureland. There he meets an assortment of colorful characters, including Emily (Stewart), a troubled girl who James, of course, takes a strong liking to.
It’s been advertised as sort of another Superbad, probably because leading man Jesse Eisenberg is reminiscent of Michael Cera – oh, and because it’s directed by the same guy that directed Superbad – , but this movie is much more subdued than Superbad. In fact, it’s tone is more like that of the show Freaks & Geeks, which was also set in the 80s. Martin Starr, who is funny as Joel in this film, was also a cast member of Freaks & Geeks, so that adds to the similarities as well.
I mentioned this movie was more subdued than Superbad, but at times it’s downright lackadaisical. The one performance that seems to be going for some sort of energy or spirit is by Matt Bush, as Frigo, but that character is fairly one-note and annoying. I think Bush was trying a little too hard to make the character wild and crazy.
The characters are mostly likable, and there’s a general pleasantness to the whole movie that makes it easy to watch, but it never really seems to hit its stride in the comedy department, despite Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig’s best efforts. Though, it compensates for that by having a more interesting relationship than is usually seen in movies like this. Ordinarily it’s just the geeky guy trying to win the perfect girl, but in this case, the girl is not so perfect. She has a troubled family life and a secret relationship that she wants to keep hidden from James. It’s refreshing to see two people who are mutually attracted to each other from the get-go, rather than a goofball who wins over the girl because the script says so. We actually get to see James and Emily converse, get to know each other, and bond over their cruddy lives, all while Emily tries to keep James at arm’s length.
As usual, there’s plenty of pot smoking and drinking, and a few bodily fluids jokes thrown in, but in general it’s a bit less crude than the average modern teen comedy. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit less funny than the better modern teen comedies.
Most of those carnival games are rigged so it’s harder to win…who knew??
10 – 2.1 for not being as funny as it should have been – 1.3 for an overall lack of energy + .2 for a more interesting lead relationship than usual = 6.8