Adventureland (2009)

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More writing for Playtime, this time I took time to review a new release (!), the best film I’ve seen this year, Adventureland. Here is an excerpt, go to the site to read the rest and some other awesome articles!

Though something of a nostalgia trip, Adventureland never falls into the traps of over romanticizing or sentimentalizing a bygone era. Inspired by the events of his own post-adolescence in the 1980s, Greg Mottola writes and directs this surprisingly tender film about confused and loveless young adults. Though beginning on a similar note as many films of its type — a party where the protagonist, James, is introduced as a virgin — the film takes an unusual path from there. He returns home to find out his summer plans are dashed and he must get a seasonable job so he’ll be able to go to Columbia University in the fall. Having never worked before, he finds himself unqualified for most lines and has to apply at the local amusement park where he is hired to run games along with a wide range of characters, including the awkward Joel and the capricious Paulette.

11 responses to “Adventureland (2009)

  1. whoa, it’s dark in here. great review. i agree with you almost entirely. i seemed to love the same things about it and have the same few problems. love the screencap too.

  2. ah, new format! can’t handle it!

    but about Adventureland, I haven’t seen it yet, and maybe never will, maybe out of spite just because of how much unexpected love it’s gotten from all you TLC bunch 😛 . But who knows, maybe i’ll give in if there’s enough peer pressure.

  3. Change is SCARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Justin: There are a few other problems I had with it, but didn’t mention, but I think they’re easy to overlook because the film works so well

    Simon: You should see it :/ Spite is a terrible, evil thing.

  4. What, is that Kiera Knightley in that movie [all Kiera Knightley movies are “that movie”s, hehe!] at the top of your, much revamped, HM&M?!?!

    I too have had ambivalent promptings to go see “Adventureland”, but I too may not make the plunge– oohhh, I don’t really like those kind of movies, even when I like them!! I think if I’m gonna watch (post)adolescent movies they have to have major sugarrush exuberance, but even then . . . It’s like I used to watch “Bring It On” and I’d be so rushed up friends would have to talk me down afterwards . . . Obviously, female friends got drafted for this duty, cause like how am I gonna tell some guy “I’m so depressed because I just watched Bring It On and my life will never be that full of energy!?!?!”–

    Are you still collaborating with Aurelle? I ask because I’ve posted on her site a couple of times recently, and I thought to myself, “I’d be so embarassed to say such lowbrow things on philosopherouge”– but now I think I just have!!! . . .

    –But really, I suspect Adventureland would irritate me too much because a)I’d see a potential evil fate for myself in it, and for me, a film contemplating that would have to explode with some kind of Napoleonic rebellion; and b) the idea of a Columbia-bound grad student slumming around in an Apatow-mafia movie just doesn’t please me. I think American indie-spirit films do a terrible job trying to convince the viewer that a character has some kind of serious, Woody Allen-level intellectual ambition. Like whatshisface in Little Miss Sunshine– does anyone really believe he’s a gay Proust scholar? I don’t see Steve Carrell pulling off a Dirk Bogarde character!

  5. I know, I’m sorry 😦 It’s a temporary compromise, I need to find a way to get a bigger font on a format I like. I only really like 2 of the themes available on wordpress. I’ll try and choose something more acomodating soon.

  6. i had a few other minor quibbles too. the confrontation scene seemed out of character to me, on jesse’s part at least. but yeah the film works well, and i agree it’s ambient nature is it’s greatest strength.

  7. Jason: Tony Scott’s Domino

    That is a brilliant summation, truly remarkable. I’m sorry, I laughed at your misfortune of lack of energy… but it’s funny.

    Oh yea, now and then I do!

    I think it kinda works in this film, since it’s not really overplayed. There are brief moments where he references his own intellectual preferences, or lets it seep into conversation, but for the most part it’s a backdrop. The dialogue and “spirit” is not really Allenesque in any sense.

    I don’t know if the film will irritate you, but it might put you in a bummer mood for one reason or another. I know it did for me.

    And yes, I never bought Carrell as any kind of intelectual scholar, let alone Proust.

    Justin: That seemed didn’t bother me, I think it works. As Justin is a person of almost excessive honesty, I think being lied to would be extremely “disturbing” to him.

  8. i’m excessively honest? 😛

    i could see that. i just was thinking if he was as hung up on her as he seemed to be he would’ve tried to rationalize it before lashing out and giving up. but the more i think about it, i could be wrong

  9. Hmm, this all sounds like Amy Heckerling’s “Loser” somehow. And I’ll admit that the whole theme of the Wounded Girl who cautiously probes having a deep, sentimental attachment with a dreamy-eyed boy while also giving herself in a spirit of loathing to a debauched older man is sortof unpleasant inherently: not strictly because the story sounds cliche (sometimes the best stories are the oldest ones) nor because the innocent young lad is inherently the better catch (one could imagine the story working, I think, if it were the older guy who were sincere and the college kid insensitive and shallow); and not, I hope, simply because I object to the Kristen Stewart character being “complicated”, but . . .

    Somehow it’s exactly the kind of scenario where I’d advise each and every party involved to just jettison the whole thing! I feel like I would experience equal loathing for each of the young lovers and for the attendant characters. Of course, I might say the same thing about Ophuls’ “La Ronde” [haven’t seen it!]–for me, somehow, relationship stories are much more interesting in that Eric Rohmer way where you only see the protagonist’s point of view, and anybody who’s complicating their relationship is off-screen or practically unknown. Which is how it is in real life! The people who are making trouble for your relationship are shadowy, conspiratorial, unknown.

    Of course, as a “Dangerous Liaisons” fan maybe I’m talking out of both ends of my mouth. Or not. I’m not sure!

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