Adventureland hit movie stores and online outlets last week. Don’t be worried if you did not find this movie in the theaters or haven’t had a opportunity to let it, because you’ve seen this movie before. Adventureland follows an old formula: boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Of course, they still love each other. Then something occurs that attracts boy and girl back together.
It’s not that formulas really are bad. Lots of films are all based on the very same theories and thoughts. For instance: Something awful happens to character X’s family. Personality X seeks revenge. Character X has his revenge. Apply this formulation one way and we get The Outlaw Josey Wales. Apply it in another way and then we get Punisher: Warzone. The distinction is that the first film had something to say and the second movie was an excuse to show explosions on the huge screen.
Adventureland falls into the second kind of film that’s nothing to convey. Greg Mottola, who led Superbad, has brought nothing new to a genre that’s already packed with other movies stating the exact same thing. It is Say Anything, without the boom box. It’s Jerry Maguire with no You had me at hello. It is The Notebook, but without the notebook.
I could forgive Mottola for developing a movie that has no interest in being than what it is. Not every movie can have a defining moment that captures an audience’s heart or defines a creation. However, every film should have characters the audience cares about. There ought to be some connection between characters in a film and the crowd. Audiences wanted Marty McFly to contact the future as much as they wanted Biff to receive his butt kicked. We loved Marty: we loathed Biff. However, we had a link with Biff, because we have all known a Biff that we wanted to punch in the nose.
Mottola has failed to create and develop characters that we care about one-way or another. If James and Em get back together, that is fine. When they don’t return together, that’s fine. If Mike is cheating on his wife, that’s fine. If they all get hit by a bus, that’s fine too. The impression is that Mottola does not care about his characters and when a manager does not care for his characters then why should we? It is a shame, because the movie has a rather talented roster.
In the lead character of James is Jesse Eisenberg. James is your self-deprecating, uncomfortable, nerdy guy who’s figuring out life. Eisenberg is perfect in the part. He has perfected this same character in other movies like Rodger Dodger and The Hunting Party. Even money says that he will play exactly the same sort of personality in Zombieland (hmmm….Adventureland into Zombieland. Coincidence? ) .
Playing Eisenberg’s love interest is Kristen Stewart. . .give me a moment to regain my composure…. Stewart plays Em, the girl that shows James the amusement park ropes. She reminds me of this girl in college (high school, GED courses, college) who’s hotter than a three-alarm fire, but includes a low self-esteem. You know the woman who has to cover everything, from the bangs that go past her eyes to the baggy clothes that cover everything else. The woman who believes that she’s to look strange and reject others before they could reject her. The girl who could have anybody, if she were to give it half a opportunity.
I really don’t blame the man; it’s Kristen Stewart! But, there’s not one single moment from the movie that we are able to see a spark between the two of them. The film goes from the two of them meeting and then jumps into those being in love. It only happens and we have to cooperate with this, because Mottola hasn’t given us another option.
In this type of movie there is always something which tears the happy couple apart. Playing with the leash that comes between James and Em is Mike, played by Ryan Reynolds. I enjoy Reynolds as a celebrity. He has talent and in films, such as Adventureland, he gets to reveal it. Too frequently we view Reynolds in movies where he is the wise ass or the class clown. I admit it; he does a great job in movies like Van Wilder, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and Waiting. But, it’s films like Definitely, Maybe, The Nines and The Amityville Horror we really get to watch Reynolds glow.
James freaks out once he learns that the two of them had something going on previously. Obviously, he does not need to see her . This really isn’t the sad moment it should be because Mottola has pushed on us a love connection between James and Em that we never thought in the first location. We don’t care when James realizes he made a mistake dumping a hottie like Kristen Stewart and tries to win her again.
The actual gems in this film are Bill Hader and Kristnen Wigg. You may remember Hader as Seth Rogen’s cop partner in Superbad and Wigg from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Both actors are hysterical since the owners of the amusement park where James and Em work. They steal every scene they’re in. Unfortunately, neither one of them are on screen long enough to save the film.
You won’t regret seeing the movie, but there are better films that deserve your time over Adventureland.