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Director: Greg Mottola

Producers: Anne Carey, Ted Hope, Sidney Kimmel

Written by: Greg Mottola

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Martin Starr, Wendie Malick, Jack Gilpin, Ryan Reynolds


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 believe.

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.

—Chelsea Stark

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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