Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adventureland (2009)

Director/writer: Greg Mottola
Photography: Terry Stacey
Original music: Yo La Tengo
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Wendie Malick, Matt Bush, Paige Howard, Dan Bittner

This tender and lovely romantic comedy is an endearing fantasy set among the disaffected of the later Reagan years, who toil for minimum wage at a seedy suburban Pittsburgh amusement park. It's 1987, and James Brennan, played in nicely brisk and nerdy manner by Jesse Eisenberg, meant to spend the summer in Europe before starting a graduate school liberal arts program at Columbia. But his plans are upended by the Reaganomics-derived financial setbacks of his parents, and instead of Europe he has to stay at home and take a job at Adventureland. Love, camaraderie, jealousy, and of course wacky antics ensue among the carnies. Brennan falls for Em Lewin, played by an admirably restrained and proficient Kristen Stewart, who can't possibly be this good in the Twilight movies, which I have not seen. But she is very good here, a waif coming of age, with a brittle shell, lost in her father's various bad choices, her mother MIA due to death. Em likes Brennan for all the right reasons (and also for what we dweebs like to think are all the right reasons, such as his unerring musical taste) but has already cast her lot before she met him with an older, married coworker at the amusement park. The standard disclaimer goes approximately here that this follow-up to director/writer Greg Mottola's first movie, Superbad, is actually way more nuanced and understated. The soundtrack, in the tradition of teen movies since approximately American Graffiti, frequently contributes snips and snatches that are emotionally pitch-perfect, from the likes of the Velvet Underground, Big Star, the Cure, the Replacements, Nick Lowe, the Stones, New York Dolls, Jesus & Mary Chain, the inevitable Wang Chung, so on and so forth. Overall a nice little treat.

No comments:

Post a Comment