Saturday, November 21, 2009

Adventureland. A-

Following up his raunchy hit 'Superbad,' Greg Mottola really tames things down with 'Adventureland,' a feel-good, funny, and very wise retro-comedy. Jessie Eisenberg, who's essentially Michael Cera # 2, stars as James, a college graduate looking to go to grad school at Columbia. But money is short and James finds that he can't afford his dream. So with the entire summer in front of him, he takes a job at a cheap amusement park called Adventureland. It's run by a man named Bobby (Bill Hader), who doesn't seem to mind that he rips off his customers with nearly every game. For example, there's a game where model figures with black hats spin around on a wheel. The goal is to knock the hats off with a ball. But James is soon informed during his tour of the park that the hats are glued on to the figures. This is just one of several low-down secrets the park has. 'Adventureland' is a romance movie, as the main conflict in the story is James and his relationship with fellow worker Emily, played by Kristen Stewart. But unlike most romantic comedies, this one is actually funny. It's a return to the classic comedies of the eighties where the humor is clever and well thought out instead of just being gross-out crudity. 'Adventureland' also has a terrific soundtrack, consisting largely of classic Lou Reed songs. There are two golden instances when 'Pale Blue Eyes' plays that are handled impeccably by Eisenberg and Stewart. Their work in these scenes does the wonderful song justice. If there's a flaw in 'Adventureland' it's that the story loses some of its wonder and humor during the final few acts. Thankfully, it never loses its intelligence. 'Adventureland' is a fantastic little movie and one of the best comedies of 2009.

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