Film Review: Adventureland

If there was one genre that would, should and could be described as turbulent in it’s ability to swing wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous it has without doubt to be the “teen rom-com” . With the simple formula of: boy meets girl, falls in love, makes a fool of himself before some grand gesture wins her over and they kiss, soaked in the light of a sky full of stars, all you have to do is pick a setting for this repetitive tale to take place: usually a high school, occasionally a band camp, or if you’re really wanting to push the boat, a theme park and you should be on to a winner.

And with a name like Adventureland it’s not hard to guess where Greg Mottola chose for his attempt to cash in on the post puberty flirtation genre. And bring to the project a filmography that sandwiches our rollercoaster ride between Superbad and Paul, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Adventureland should be a fairly safe bet. That he knew what he was doing.

Sadly though, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Firstly, there are some major issues with the casting. Leading our tale is Jesse Eisenberg. Who in my view, just cannot act. His eyes and facial expression are never capable to portraying any other emotions than scared and lonely. And while for a few moments in this film it works, for most of it, it doesn’t. You just can’t believe in him as a character, he never manages to really bring his character to life. There is a real sense that leading the line so to speak, he’s way, way out of his depth. He falls into situations that appear to be just a little bit too good to be true while at the same time, managing to create a character that appears more and more desperate. Opposite ends of a spectrum that cannot touch.

Jesse Eisenberg - Adventureland

The rest of the cast don’t fair too much better either. Kristen Stewart manages to appear as the Hollywood A-List Princess. It’s almost as if there is a halo of perfection around her when she’s on screen. She almost looks too good. Don’t get me wrong, I like her as an actress, and her performance is far far superior to Eisenberg’s but she just looks wrong. Her hair is too conditioned, her make-up too unblemished. She just doesn’t quite fit her surroundings. And the least said about Ryan Reynolds, who really is just walking through his part, appearing at times to be little more than bored, the better.

My next issue came from the fact that within the typical 1+1 plot it presents, it takes a moral tone that I found uneasy. Yes it’s set in the late 1980s, when people had different attitudes, but it has an uneasy stance on drink, drugs and driving under the influence. My modern 21st century values to zero tolerance behind the wheel of a car meant this unnecessary element felt totally alien and creates an overriding anxiety towards the characters and their actions. Which in a teen age romantic comedy isn’t great.

Kirsten Stewart - Adventureland

Sadly this film doesn’t even improve when you take a look at the soundtrack. As mentioned, it’s set in the late 1980s and it has a wealth of spectacular music to chose from. Choice it attempts to utilise, but never fully manages too. Looking at the track listing, how it manages to mishandle such an impressive collection of hits is anyone guess, but rather than leaving you blown away by the timing of their injections, it simply falls flat. Every song feeling a beat too late, or a lacking the depth it deserves.

Yet, having sat here and declared this film to be a complete mess, a failure and another example of the genre ridiculous, I actually liked the movie. I think that’s partly down to the fact that the boy meets girl idea, no matter how badly performed it may be, touches us all at the core. It may be fantasy, but inside we all wish it would happen to us. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m also a realist and I know I will never sweep a girl off her feet as the snowflakes fall around us. And I’m fully aware that American Pie, The Perks of Being A Wallflower and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist are either simply better films or will leave you feeling more satisfied, but for some reason, faults and all, I can’t bring myself to really hate Adventureland.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

Comments are closed.