Greg Matolla, USA, 2009, 107 min.
I haven’t had this much fun in a movie theatre since I got an ex-girlfriend to reinact a particular line of Alanis Morissette’s breakout hit You Oughta Know with me while watching The X-Files Movie in 1998!
Ok, ok, that’s probably taking it quite a bit too far. Still, Adventureland is a surprisingly refreshing look into the confusing and often hilarious world of post-college love and shitty summer jobs. It’s an exploration into the life of James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a recent college graduate who must work at an amusement park so he can save money to attend graduate school at Columbia. A quirky cast of characters helps James navigate through the confusing terrain and find love in Emily (Kristen Stewart), a rebellious NYU college student. Adventureland deals heavily in the themes of love, jealousy, confusion, regret and nut-punching. I haven’t witnessed so many brutal nut-punches administered since I roamed the halls of Jonas Salk Middle School in 8th grade and the infamous cock-knocking incident of 1994. It was glorious and breath-taking!
A warning: anyone going to see Adventureland and expecting a rehash of Greg Matolla’s work in Superbad is bound to be at least momentarily confused, if not downright disappointed. Adventureland is a far more serious film and, though far from a Dramedy, is not the straight and mindless comedy people are likely to expect. Although there is a seemingly endless cavalcade of genital slams and other elements of sophomoric humor, these moments are brief and fleeting. Though the film is still funny, it centers more on the complex and awkward relationships between the characters, making it a far superior and more complete film than Superbad.
Adventureland isn’t the frat-boy comedy most people are probably expecting it to be. It’s better. Hiding behind all the dick-and-fart jokes and the occasional punch to the nuts is a film that’s trying to say something. What it’s saying is “see me, you won’t be disappointed.”