Everyone, for better or for worse, can remember every one of the
Brat Pack movies from the ’80s. The likable characters were
in crummy situations and tried to work out their adolescent hormones
while totally boss music played in the background. Well, Superbad
director Greg Mottola attempted to capture some
of that magic in Adventureland, a movie made today but set in the
magical year 1987. Apparently that’s the only time you can
have both the right amount of hormones and boss music.
The problem with Adventureland is that the trailers and
Mottola’s hand behind the wheel lead to you believe that you’re
about to watch a comedy. Don’t be fooled! This movie may have
the wacky shenanigans of early-20s kids working dead-end jobs, but
that’s more of the setting than the premise. This movie focuses
on the plight of Jesse Eisenberg’s character James Brennan,
who is just out of college with a very useful degree in something
liberal arts, and who lacks real world experience. He is forced
to take a menial summer job at Adventureland, where he learns more
than about earning a paycheck, or so the tagline would have you
Here’s where the movie falls flat for me. I’ve met
all of these characters before: the virgin liberal arts major with
his head in the clouds, the hot, smart girl with parent issues,
the skeezy married guy who bangs her, the more traditionally hot
girl who is dumb as a brick but everyone wants to sleep with, etc.
The most interesting characters, to me, were probably the couple
that owns the theme park, played by Bill Hader
and Kristen Wiig. The small glimpses into their
life were more interesting than the hours you feel like you spend
watching the main characters interact.
This movie probably could have been saved if the pacing was better.
I felt entertained, but found myself looking at my watch after the
first hour and exclaiming, “It’s only been another 10
minutes!” It clocks in at an hour and 47 minutes, but probably
feels more like three due to the weakly threaded story. I guess
the movie captures perfectly the feeling of a listless summer spent
working a crap job, but is that really something to go for? I felt
like I definitely spent time getting to know the characters throughout,
but that only works if your characters have something more to give
besides formulaic growth.
The music was boss though; they played “Rock Me, Amadeus”
at least five times, as well as many other ’80s classics.
There may not have been any true “Don’t You Forget About
Me” moments, but it definitely added to the movie.
I feel like I might have come down too hard on this film. It’s
still fun and enjoyable, but don’t expect a lot out of it,
and, most importantly, wait for video.