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Adventureland (UR)
BLU-RAY disk
Aug 28, 2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
Adventureland (UR) order
Director:
Greg Mottola

Actors:
Jesse Eisenberg
Kristen Stewart
Ryan Reynolds

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
With his future planned out, all James Brennan has to do is survive the summer. But after his parents renig on vacation money (and his tuition) leaving him penniless, James decides to get a job at Adventureland in hopes of solving his financial problems.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
When this flick first hit theaters I read one review sporting the tagline “If you’re expecting SUPERBAD 2 you’ll be disappointed.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d be pretty pissed to see a SUPERBAD 2 without Seth, Evan and Mclovin! Of course, I know what this person meant, which is if you’re looking for an all out laugh-fest of a comedy, this isn’t it. I’m not saying this movie isn’t funny, it is, but it’s one of those half comedy, half drama setups that follow the same path as CHASING AMY, KNOCKED UP and THE BREAKUP. Like ADVENTURELAND, these were all decent movies, but their first halves really pushed the comedy while the last halves veered into drama. Is that a bad thing? Not really. I enjoyed this flick quite a bit, I just don’t think it’ll be what most people are expecting.

Jesse Eisenburg handles the lead well, and though I’m sure he’d never admit it, I feel he’s trying a little too hard to be Michael Cera (which as it turns out, works for him here). One of the reasons I believe it works so well is because I couldn’t shake the feeling that writer/director Greg Mottola wrote the part of James FOR Cera and then for some reason couldn’t get him and settled for Eisenburg. Either way, I like the guy and am seriously looking forward to ZOMBIELAND. I’m not a huge fan of Kristen Stewart however, especially as a love interest because I just don’t find her attractive. She plays a great Bella in TWILIGHT and I even liked her in THE MESSENGERS, but I didn’t buy her and Eisenburg’s forced chemistry, despite digging the love triangle with Ryan Reynolds. That said, the three-way love angle (four if count Lisa P) is surprisingly lifelike, which in turn made it feel genuine and believable.

The plot was very grounded (like the love angle) and again, really makes you believe what’s going on. I’m all for the “life happens” approach, considering shit DOES always tend to hit the fan just when we think we have things figured out. Everything from James’s parents not coming up with the cash they promised and then making him spend all his money on car repairs, to the work drama, scams and his (not so reliable) best friend, just screamed realism to me (not surprising considering the writer/director based this flick on his own summer job adventures). Bill Hader was a treat as always, but I was a little surprised to see Reynolds take such a “low key” character part. When I first saw him, I thought he might give us an encore performance from WAITING. Sadly no (as his role wasn’t meant to be funny), but I enjoyed him nonetheless.

ADVENTURELAND is a mixed bag. It’s neither the comedic event of the summer, nor the feelgood movie of the year, but it was a good coming of age story and certainly has its moments. There’s fun to be had here and I do recommend it, but it does lose a couple points for not knowing which genre it truly belongs in. I only mention this because commercially it was pawned off a comedy, thus receiving a lot of negative reviews. The good news is, as long as you know what you’re getting into here, I’m quite confident you’ll enjoy yourself like I did. That said, I wouldn’t say you need to OWN the Blu-ray (the colors were smooth and quite striking in 1080p, but there’s not much replay value with this one), but I would definitely drop the extra couple bucks to RENT the Blu-ray.
THE EXTRAS
Just My Life: The Making Of Adventureland: Writer/director Greg Mottola explains that the idea for this script came about when telling a story about his childhood summer job as a carny. I don’t care how degrading it looks, working at an amusement park is bound to produce many a funny story and could easily be one hell of a way to spend your summer...if you’re a teenager.

Feature Commentary- With Writer/Director Greg Mottola and Actor Jesse Eisenberg: You can tell a lot about the overall feel of a commentary when you hear the director and actor dropping F-bombs in the first thirty seconds. These guys are hilarious and if commentaries are your thing, you’ll wanna check this out.

Deleted Scenes: A slim two and a half minutes worth with an optional (funny) commentary. Bill Hader and Kristen Wigg (the owners) mostly, taken out because the director felt it slowed down the pace. The joke about “the Police not being open on Sunday” is priceless.

Frigo’s Ball Taps: A quick two minutes with the underused Frigo, where he explains how excited he is to be punching so many men in the balls. So excited, that he shows us several different examples of how to get in a “good hit.” The “Drive-by” and “Stranger” are hilarious.

Lisa P’s Guide to Style: Lisa P gives us a two minute fashion make over. Her eighties theme was somewhat entertaining, but I’d be more interested in seeing her birthday suit.

Welcome to Adventureland: Four (in character) commercials promoting Adventureland and/or explaining the working environment as an employee. I’d personally work anywhere that featured a work related video using the word f*ck. Cheesy, but quite funny.

Sneak Peeks: There’s some trailers, a Blu-ray commercial, a stop smoking commercial (kinda odd) and a digital copy of the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I went into ADVENTURELAND with no preconceived expectations (though based on the trailers, I TOO thought it was a raunchy teen comedy), and as such enjoyed the film for what it was. The funny parts were funny, and the dramatic parts were, well, kinda campy but still managed to make me care. Most guys have experienced some of James’s bad luck at some point.

Extra Tidbit: A friend of mine was a carny for a year. One of the chicks he worked with told him how she liked to go home with random guys and rob them blind while they were sleeping. That’s one expensive ride.
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