Sundance 2009 Review: Greg Mottola's Adventureland
by Alex Billington
January 21, 2009
When it comes to coming of age comedies, Superbad still remains one of my all-time favorites. So going into Adventureland, which is Greg Mottola's follow-up to Superbad, I had set some very high expectations. Right off the bat, I'll say that it doesn't exactly come close to matching Superbad, but it's not supposed to. Adventureland, while still a comedy, is much more of a story about love. Thus I had to change my expectations midway through, and as a result, I still came out thoroughly enjoying the film. It's not exactly a hilarious romp through the quirky antics of an amusement park, but it is a story about growing up.
Adventureland follows James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a recent college grad who is planning to spend his summer in Europe. But when his parents lose their money and can't help pay for the trip, he's forced to get a summer job at the local amusement park. After quickly discovering that it's not a glamorous job at all, he meets the quirky Em (Kristen Stewart), and soon begins to fall in love with her. But as he also finds out, she's been spending time with the park's maintenance guy, Connell (Ryan Reynolds). As it turns out, the story in this is much more about this love triangle than it is James dealing with his crappy summer job.
One of the many reasons that I enjoyed Adventureland was that it was just a classic and entertaining story. But one of the reasons I didn't like it is because of Kristen Stewart. Her character was pretty much the same as in Twilight, quite one-dimensional, and didn't really bring a much needed dynamic to the love story. Adventureland isn't the comedy I was expecting to see, but that's not to say there still isn't a lot more to like about it. It's a heartfelt story about growing up and falling in love and that is definitely thanks to the much better performance from its lead, Jesse Eisenberg. A great film to watch on a summer afternoon.
Sundance Rating: 8 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 7 Comments
Alex, I love Sundance and all the talent that it showcases. I love the quirky, the edgy, the funny films that come out of it, but the only drawback is that I can only read about it. A lot of these films which score extremely well on the film sites never make it overseas. Living in Australia, there are a lot of great films that are completely overlooked. For some reason, the "Man" has decided that I should go see something like "Hotel for Dogs" rather than spend some time and energy to show something decent here in cinemas. Invariably, there's also a long wait before we see anything of worth come out here anyways. I think Sunshine Cleaning is due in March sometime? Thats a full 15 months after it debuted last Sundance. So, I have a love-hate relationship with this time. I love hearing about all these awesome films, but I hate not being able to see them.
Jezza on Jan 21, 2009
I'm frustrated in the same way. It's practically the same situation in France. There is no "Open for all" film festival, and only limited to none releases for indies. And we are talking about supposedly "The Capital of Culture" and "The Country of "Auteur" film-making". Anyway, looking forward to this one. Mottola's "vintage/regressive" style, usually works for me. Even thought, Kristen Stewart doesn't really suits me.
Salmoneus on Jan 21, 2009
good to hear you enjoyed it. sucks to hear it's not more about the crappy job. but i like these kinds of stories. so i'd probably love it. and on top of that, i have a fascination with amusement parks.
crAziemutant on Jan 21, 2009
This movie has the same comedy potential as Superbad or Waiting, I just hate the fact Kristen Stewart is in it. She is such a bad actress, and i agree she is very one dimentional in ALL of her movies. I can't believe I wasted time on Twilight and The Messengers (Not by choice), and if they had a BETTER actress, or even an unknown, this movie would be so much better. But I can look past her motionless, unexpressive, non lip-moving when she talks acting and suck it for this movie.
MagnoliaFan on Jan 22, 2009
I'm looking forward to it but I didn't realize that it was more of a love triangle story...hmm. I don't know about Kristen Stewart sometimes I really like her (Into the Wild, Speak, Fierce People) and other times not as much. I do have to admit though that I am surprised by your comment "Her character was pretty much the same as in Twilight" because I thought you had made it pretty clear that you didn't see Twilight. 😉
Janet on Jan 22, 2009
Thanks for the greatest review and news!
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