Posted: 08/26/2009

 

Adventureland

(2009)

by Laura Tucker




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I seem to be caught in a time warp here. Watching Adventureland, I should have known the time frame very well, but I was off by eight years. I thought the hair, music, and clothing was reminiscent of 1979, not of 1987. It was like going home to me as I watched it, but realizing it’s supposed to be eight years later, it’s somewhat disappointing, as these kids should then be my age and into what I was into then, and aren’t. They’re into what my sister was into in 1979.

1987 was the year for Dirty Dancing, The Secret of My Success, and Lethal Weapon. It was the time for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” by Georgia Satellites, and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2. They do have songs from that era in the soundtrack, but they just don’t seem to be concentrated on enough. Additionally, people were wearing acid-washed jeans and short skirts, but instead here we have worn-out jeans and t-shirts. That’s 1979.

Granted, the kids and young adults here are working at a theme park that is supposed to be behind the times. That accounts for the Lou Reed music playing, and their working outfits of the faded t-shirts and jeans. However, even after hours the clothes these kids are wearing don’t look like what I was wearing in 1987. Where are the Peter Pan boots?

And it should be what I was wearing. James (Jesse Eisenberg) has just graduated college and is headed to grad school to study journalism. This means he most likely graduated high school in 1983. I graduated in 1982. I didn’t even finish college, let alone move on to grad school; nevertheless, the clothes were the same whether you were studying or not. My style choice in those years was a bow in my hair. Please don’t judge me. Just realize that nary a bow was to be found in this film anywhere.

The characters in the movie, though, are all people I knew then. That’s timeless. James was the guy I always fell in love with. The sensitive guy, not necessarily the best looking, but good-looking nonetheless. His parents can’t afford to send him on a summer vacation like he had planned on, so he’s stuck working for the summer, and the only place hiring is the theme park. He wants to work the rides, but his new bosses, Bobby and Paulette (Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig) decide he’s a games type of guy.

Showing James the ropes of working Games, such as never, ever allowing anyone to win the “giant ass panda”, is Joel (Martin Starr). Everyone knows this guy as well, out of touch socially and the smartest guy around, yet isn’t pretentious about it at all. You just know. Also working games is Em (Kristen Stewart). She’s the girl that could be really pretty if she did her hair and makeup, yet chooses not to and just does her own thing. She lives with her rich dad and mean stepmom. Frigo (Matt Bush), a childhood friend of James’ who insists on punching him in the groin every chance he gets, which is probably the reason why he’s only a childhood friend, also works in the park on Rides.

James quickly falls for Em, but has a hard time showing her this, being his recent breakup with his girlfriend of ten days. She seems to be interested in James, but she has a hard time showing it, as she’s having an affair with another employee of Adventureland, Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who is married. We all know this guy too.  He’s the guy that is ten years older than the kids/young adults, but spends his time with them as he knows they all think he’s cool, and his own age group doesn’t see him that way. He realizes the growing attraction of James and Em, and tries to get James interested instead in Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), the girl that everyone wants, and the only one that doesn’t dress in faded jeans and t-shirts. We know her. Everyone thinks she has a different date every night, but she doesn’t, and is really more lonely than people would expect.

I did enjoy the relationships of the movie, but it wasn’t as funny as I was looking for. Sure, it had its humorous moments, but when you tell me it’s from the same people as Superbad, that’s obviously what I’m looking for. Perhaps people and situations from this time frame are funnier than from 1987.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack, and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, and is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com



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