Sunday, October 13, 2013

Adventureland (Blu-ray w/ Digital Copy) (2011)

AdventurelandADVENTURELAND is magical, a film of honesty, innocence and real life all centered around the coming of age of teen James played by the very impressive Jesse Eisenberg. Many viewers may at first be surprised by this film and find it slow and lacking in the expected hilarity. When the promotion work was done on this film it was a marketing travesty. This film is directed by Greg Mottola of SUPERBAD fame, a film which redefined the comedy genre. When one thinks of SUPERBAD it is associated with KNOCKED UP, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and ROLE MODELS. These films were tender tales told with over the top, in your face hilarity. I adore these films and own them all. They are classics. But ADVENTURELAND was promoted as if it was in this genre and it totally is not. The tender story of James is the center and there is heartfelt drama and emotion wrapped around this unique blend of honest characters and low scored humor. The humor is underplayed and always there but not in an over the top way.

James has his life all planned out, just graduated from high school and finds out that his college fund no longer exists so he must get a summer job. The only work available is at the tacky amusement park ADVENTURELAND. The cast is amazing and the story is told intimately in the vein of a small indie film. James falls for Em, the ever talented Kristen Stuart. Ryan Reynolds effectivelty underplays his role of the park gigolo. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE are hilarious as the owners of the park but for me most of the laughts come from the very underrated Wendie Malick who plays James mother.

This film is a gentle coming of age story with very real characters. It is not an over the top laughfest but instead a tender drama filled with charmed laughs. If you find this movie to not be what you expected don't give up on it and give it a second viewing. I guarantee it will grow on you. It grew on me so much I had to purchase it.

This film takes place in the mid 80s and is true to the time preriod. There is a classic soundtrack and everything else from scenery to props are right on point. The blu ray version has a very impressive 1080p high def transfer that show colors with immense clarity and treats darks with class. Audio is also superb. This film has a story to tell and with each viewing you will grow fonder and fonder of the characters and its humor and grace will become a huge part of the films charm. This is a coming of age tale that is a must see.

ADVENTURELAND is Greg Mottola's directorial follow-up to SUPERBAD But it's not a laugh-out-loud comedy, despite the facts that Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are on hand as park managers and the lead character keeps getting hit in the balls by the annoying childhood friend he can't quite shake off. It's a movie Kristen Stewart shot before TWILIGHT. But this time around, she's not falling for a dark, mysterious and brooding hero.

What is ADVENTURELAND? It's a charming, well-acted, intelligently written and highly enjoyable coming-of-age story set at a 1980s amusement park.

Jesse Eisenberg gives a fine performance as James Brennan, the virginal, insecure, awkwardly intelligent college grad who takes a summer job at Adventureland when his parents' financial troubles force him to cancel his European summer plans. Kristen Stewart shines as Em, the girl he falls for but who happens to be involved with the park's married maintenance guy. Stewart makes her character believably screwed up, both in her home life and in how she compartmentalizes and balances her dueling summer relationships. Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds makes Mike, the maintenance guy, a tightly wound bundle of emotions, playing him as an aging town stud who understands that while most of the young people who surround him may enjoy a summer of fun, games and meaningless rides, he's the only one who'll be doing it all again next summer.

There's a great supporting cast and a fun '80s soundtrack, too.

So don't expect SUPERBAD. But if you do go along for the ride, be prepared to for something super good.

Buy Adventureland (Blu-ray w/ Digital Copy) (2011) Now

Director Greg Mottola famously worked at a run-down amusement park in his younger years, and that transformative experience serves "Adventureland" well. This flick goes for a quieter, deeper humor than Mottola's smash hit "Superbad," but it is no less endearing.

It's somewhere in the later '80s, and James (Jesse Eisenberg) is a smart guy cursed with a) a liberal arts degree, b) parents who are unexpectedly financially strapped, and c) who lives in Pittsburgh. (By the way is it eerie or cool that Eisenberg stars in two movies with similar one-word titles, "Adventureland" and "Zombieland," that are based in theme parks where he plays the Michael Cera role?) To raise the cash to go to Columbia journalism school, James gets stuck with a terrible summer job at Adventureland a place that puts the "lack" in lackluster.

The theme park is populated with a range of supporting characters that is as solid and pleasing as any ensemble has a right to be. One of the problems with these sorts of films is that the supporting characters tend to be one-note archetypes. That's definitely not the case here the supporting cast is surprisingly original and defies expectations.

Take the park bombshell Lisa P. (Margaria Levieva). We first see her in one of those Sexy Slow Walks through Adventureland as all the guys stop to watch her lick a Sno-Cone. Every guy's first reaction is, "I hope this is the actress who agreed to do a bit of nudity." Instead of being either a) a simple sexpot or b) a stuck-up rhymes-with-with coasting on her beauty, Lisa P. actually turns out to be cool-but-flawed she even asks James his thoughts about God during a good pot-smoking session. This is a real girl who just happens to be gorgeous it's this kind of attention to detail that makes "Adventureland" a pleasure.

Much of the movie focuses on James trying to act on his obvious chemistry with Em (Kristen Stewart, "Twilight" saga). James and Em are seriously into each other, but are kept apart by a variety of neuroses and conflicts. In a lesser film, these two would be kept apart by silly misunderstandings that could be cleared up with a simple five-minute conversation here, there are darker and deeper issues in play. Whether these issues will be resolved takes time, and as a result we care about these two.

For those of us looking for a raunchy "Superbad 2," "Adventureland" does not fit the bill. Even though this is a funny movie, there are only a couple of laugh-out-loud moments. For me, the funniest scene in the movie involves the park owners, Bobby and Paulette (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), as they confront a violent park patron watching Paulette nonchalantly hand Bobby a baseball bat so he can defend the park's honor before returning to the finances was a perfect snapshot of the lives of these two entrepreneurs. And there is a shot-to-the-groin scene toward the end of the movie that I found as hilarious as Homer Simpson did when he watched Hans Moleman's film, "Football in Groin."

For anyone who's worked a bad job with great coworkers, this movie's for you.

Read Best Reviews of Adventureland (Blu-ray w/ Digital Copy) (2011) Here

I find it difficult to imagine that anyone couldn't be taken in by this refreshing bit of nostalgia from the very talented writer/director, Greg Mottola (Superbad).Honest and earnest performances from Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart help to transcend this from just another coming-of-age story. The craziness is wonderfully enhanced by Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig, Ryan Reynolds, and, especially, Martin Starr as the most colorful of Jesse's new acquaintances. "Adventureland" made many Top 10 lists this year, but the only actual award recognition I'm aware of is an Indie Spirit nomination for Mr. Mottola's very clever screenplay. I enjoyed it VERY much. Coming-of-age has rarely been displayed in such a clever and original way (yes, I've seen "Breaking Away" and "American Graffiti").

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As soon as I finished this movie a few feelings ran through me: I pined for young love, wished to be young(er) again and wanted to watch Adventureland again. I can't remember the last time I wanted to watch a movie a second time.

This story rang true to me, the acting was great and there was enough comedy to keep things interesting. Make no mistake, though, this isn't the Superbadesque comedy it was marketed as. It's an extremely well done coming of age love story with likable charachters with an 80's twist.

(Edited for atrocious English)

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