Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Everyone else is having fun in Adventureland

Adventureland was not the film I thought it was going to be. I fell into the trailer's cunning trap. I believed it was a comedy. It wasn't. So I'll need to forget about that before I start writing about it. What it is is a drama about a college graduate working in a theme park. He sits around on the 'games', making sure nobody wins and listening to repetitive music. The 'work of pathetic lazy morons', as one character says. Which is probably one of the reasons they're all a bit depressed. Everyone's having a melancholic time. It's 1987. Although that probably doesn't have anything to do with it. It's 1987 and they're bored, lost, and hopeless. The main character, played by Jesse Eisenberg of The Social Network, meets a girl who is also depressed. The whole thing is horribly believable. It ambles along in a dreary sort of way, showing these characters going nowhere and the summer passing. It's a film that will either captivate you or send you to sleep. And I have to admit that, unfortunately, I was bit bored. Which is a shame, because I desperately wanted to like it. For a film like this to work, you need to warm to it. Maybe from a nostalgia for the eighties. Maybe because you understand the characters. And this guy, with his degree in comparative literature and good intentions, can be easily understood. But I was left feeling apathetic towards this realistic character and his realistic problems. It's authentic but not particularly interesting. Not particularly entertaining. I feel bad criticising it, as its heart is in the right place, and if you watched it tomorrow there's a good chance you'd disagree with me. For me, the only spark of energy came from Bill Hader's theme park manager, who brings a little bit of moustache-comedy in his brief apperances. I've put off writing about it for a few days, in case I suddenly realised I loved it. This has not happened. I only remember it to be amiable, sweet, and a little dull.

Adventureland was not the film I thought it was going to be. A drama that's happy to be boring, if that's what reflects the story. As a slice of real life it succeeds (though I have no personal experience of 1987). As a film it's let down by its own intentions. Maybe if I hadn't been so cruelly deceived from the beginning I might have felt differently towards it. Mildly interesting? Yes, but for me little more than that.


  1. My friend had the same comedic expectations and subsequent disappointment as you. "It's not like Superbad" were, I believe, his exact words. And he is a smart, interesting and culturally diverse guy. In contrast, I loved the way it followed a bunch of people doing not much and being miserable. When they finally stop accepting their sucky lives and do something that suprises them, it gives me hope!!

  2. Just watched "The Education of Charllie Banks", with Jesse Eisenberg as a bookish college student. It ambles in the way of independent films, but you might like it better. It's set in the seventies, I don't quite get the fascination with the recent past of a lot of small independent films I must say.

  3. LEAT - I'd forgetten that it was the Superbad director. Can't say I liked that film, but he's got range.

    Artsparker - After Social Network, I'll watch anything with Eisenberg in.