Saturday, September 12, 2009

Adventureland: I'm More Excited for "Zombieland"

Adventureland movie poster

Everyone's worked at a job they hated. Some people do that for a few years when they're teenagers, or just out of college, and some people do it for longer. Adventureland is the story of James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a college graduate that's having difficulty finding a real job to get ready for graduate school. The only job he can get ends up being as a carny of sorts, working in the Games for the local summer amusement park Adventureland. There are shenanigans, that kind of boring girl from Twilight, and some people from SNL. Ryan Reynolds is there, too, but his character's kind of a jerk. It was written and directed by Greg Mottola, the director of Superbad. One thing about the guy, he knows how to write up some awkward and basically intelligent characters (with the exception of a few, but that's normal).

Also, one of the things that I can't help connecting in my mind is the upcoming film Zombieland, which also stars Jesse Eisenberg, and also has -land in the title. Part of me really hopes that Zombieland is an unofficial sequel. If I see that kid in a "Games Games Games" t-shirt in the zombie movie, I just might lose my shiz. Unfortunately, the anticipation of a totally different movie with a similar title and one shared actor. The movie isn't terrible, but it isn't fantastic. It has some good moments, some good lines, and some interesting characters, but that's pretty much it.

kristen stewart,jesse eisenberg,adventureland

But wait, there's more! Well, not much more. Plot-wise, it's relatively complicated, actually. James Brennan (Eisenberg) has just graduated with his Bachelor's degree, and is now gearing up for a big summer abroad before going to grad school. Unfortunately, his parents (Jack Gilpin and Wendie Malick) are having financial difficulties, and won't be able to help him with the trip, or really for graduate school. He finds himself virtually unemployable, and ends up working in Games for Adventureland, a summer theme park in the town. There, he meets some girls, some weird guys, the cool but kind-of-a-jerk maintenance man (played by Ryan Reynolds), and eventually makes his plans for the fall, which he then departs from drastically by the end of the movie to be with Kristen Stewart's character. It has some great cameo appearances by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, who play the proprietors of the park, and are relatively crazy. He also gets to hang out with his childhood friend Frigo, who punches him in the nuts a lot (and is played by that kid from the phone commercials that never wants to use "old minutes," you know the one).

It's a bit more dramatic than I was anticipating based on the previews, and I didn't really hear too many opinions or see many reviews for it. Granted, I rarely seek out reviews (which seems odd, since I sort-of write reviews several times a week), but still. It was a pretty low-key release, with few actors that can really be considered top-level, but it was pretty entertaining.

bill hader,kristen wiig,kristen stewart,jesse eisenberg,adventureland,martin starr

Now, she isn't the most terrible thing in the world. She's ... just kind of bland, and doesn't really seem to jump into any character she's playing. Luckily, I think people tend to cast her in roles that are kind of plain and relatively boring, so she doesn't really have to work all that hard. For some reason, I felt myself noticing a lot of her mannerisms, and they're annoying as all hell. She does the same hair-fixing motion when she's distressed, or hungry, or amused, or drunk.

The film feels very much like a high-school coming-of-age story, but virtually all the characters are in their 20s, at least. Maybe because Jesse Eisenberg's character is a virgin, but still, it's an unusual sensation. Maybe it's some sort of commentary, that we never really grow out of the crappy jobs, the weird relationships, the uncertain futures, and the money troubles of youth. Even his parents are having problems, and don't seem to have their own clearly defined directions. Or maybe I'm overthinking it. It's probably just a dumb little movie about a weird job at an amusement park.

Basically, it's decent, but only if you really want to see it. I don't know if it would be worth it to spend money on. Luckily for me, the Lady's sister had rented it, and we filched it, so, score! Free movie, right? I'd say it's amusing, more dramatic than it initially seemed, and kind of made me think about how interesting and rewarding my life actually is. I'd give it two and a half punches in the nuts from that phone commercial kid out of five, or two and a half blank, soulless and empty staring eyes of Kristen Stewart out of five.

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