Thursday, January 14, 2010

Summer Days Part Two: Adventureland

Directed by Greg Mottola
Released April 3, 2009

There’s just something about the summer. It’s a time when things are different, more relaxed, and when it’s possible to sit around and do nothing. For some, however, things aren’t that easy, and those in need of some extra cash often need to get out and find a summer job. In the summer of 1987, several unmotivated college graduates are given the unique opportunity of working at an amusement park known as Adventureland. They sure don’t enjoy the experience of working at the most bland and uninteresting job in the world, and therefore it’s not much of a surprise that the experience of watching is just as thoroughly boring.

The theme of “Adventureland” seems to be to paint some sort of “Freaks and Geeks”-like portrait of life as an outsider in the most inane and mundane of situations and to make nerdiness seem cool like in “Juno.” Unlike director Greg Mottola’s previous film, “Superbad,” this film isn’t terribly clever or terribly funny. Watching lazy, incompetent, unintelligent people interact with each other and dampen each others’ happiness is just as miserable for the audience as it is for the characters. For a while, it seems like there might be some hidden silver lining just waiting to be revealed, but that’s not the case.

The most regrettable thing about “Adventureland” is that its cast, which could otherwise have truly enhanced and possibly even rescued the film from being a dud, is woefully unable to fulfill the task. Skilled “Saturday Night Live” players Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig are relegated to playing the more mature, only slightly odd actual adults who own and operate Adventureland. Hader was used in an infinitely better way in “Superbad,” and both he and Wiig could have done so much more here. Kristen Stewart used to be able to act, but it appears that too much “Twilight” has robbed her of the ability to do anything but run her fingers continuously through her hair. Jesse Eisenberg, who’s proven his ability to carry a film time and time again with “Roger Dodger,” “The Emperor’s Club,” “The Squid and the Whale,” and “Zombieland,” is probably the best part of this film, but even he can’t overcome the lackluster material. “Adventureland” is no adventure, and it’s a pretty dull waste of time at that.


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