Harry loved his admission to ADVENTURELAND!
I saw ADVENTURELAND today - and it was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Not a yuck fest, but a genuine story with heart, soul that doesn't take itself deadly serious, but has enough emotional weight to feel like it could actually take place in our real world. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT IS!
I love SUPERBAD, but on repeated viewings, I find myself wishing the GAG quotient was lowered, and the heart and friendships and relationships were more solidly nurtured. I found ADVENTURELAND to be a far superior film to SUPERBAD. For one - I like that this isn't a film about High School kids, but a slightly older crowd. I like how it is kinda structured like DIRTY DANCING, in the way that it is one young character's transformative Summer experience in that Summer of 1987.
The fun thing is, here you are... 1987, but it isn't really a NOSTALGIA TRIP flick, it wears its period without beating you over the head with it. The songs are what really clue you in, that and the hairstyles and clothes. But these characters are not talking about Lethal Weapon, Predator, Princess Bride. They're not chatting about THE COSBY SHOW, A DIFFERENT WORLD, CHEERS or ALF. You see Reagan on a TV, but it isn't a joke.
This film is focused on the characters and who they are - and they're not your self-aware media junkie geeks flipping through comics and movies. Our lead is James Brennan played perfectly by Jesse Eisenberg. This is a less overtly awkward Michael Cera type, but older. He is a college graduate, in transition between college and seeking a Graduate degree in Journalism - after majoring in Renaissance studies. He also happens to be a Virgin. Not an inept one, but one of choice. He's had opportunities, but his love of Renaissance literature has given him a lovesick fascination with true love. Although peer pressure and his own natural attraction and desire for intercourse... well, it is on his mind.
This isn't another of those comedic romps about getting laid, though that is the overall arc of this story. It's more about real human types that take a summer job at a theme park like ADVENTURELAND and what that summer could very well have been like.
I found the story to be very honest feeling. You don't have ridiculous over the top disgusting gags for laughs' sake. The drugs and drinking isn't about stereotypes with half-closed eyes acting like burn-outs... But about sharing a single joint after work to take the edge off - and the kinds of conversations that these types of people would have. And they're not about aliens, movies or those sorts of things. But about the things that people really want to talk about. Sometimes - those things are hilarious. Sometimes they're tragically revealing.
People get hurt in this film and some triumph. This is a film that has a shared soul with movies like AMERICAN GRAFFITI and DAZED & CONFUSED, though not nearly as GREAT as those films - at least not upon a single reflection.
The cast is wonderful. I dare you to not lust after Margarita Levieva's Lisa P or not fall a little in love with Kirsten Stewart's Em. These are not perfect types, but characters that surprise you with their flaws and their merits. Martin Starr is again masterful as a wonderful Nikolai Gogol and other Soviet literature. He smokes a pipe and is acutely self-aware that his major prepared him for isolation and self-loathing, which in turn leaves him frustrated.
I know I'm describing a film that feels like a downer, but it isn't. I LOVED spending the summer with these characters. I loved how there are no overt VILLAINS, only mistakes that flawed humans make and then chose to forgive or be condemned by.
I honestly feel we need more movies like this that help with the balance. I enjoy the silly goofy crap, but it doesn't inspire a generation to anything but losing itself in mediocrity and the science of distraction. This film feels honest, sweet and funny. That may not be as marketably cool as "from the creator of SUPERBAD," but it is a very very worthwhile film experience.