justin's adventureland critique.
in the spirit of my new link up, critique cache, justin wanted to do a critique of his own, of a movie we watched the other night. it was not the first viewing of this film for either of us, but i think justin has some really interesting & entertaining observations.
a reminder about critique cache: the anchor post for each month's critique cache will go up on the first wednesday of each month. the link-up will remain open throughout the month & will close the day before the next month's anchor post goes up - this gives you (and me) all month to link up about what we've been reading/listening to/watching/etc.
Director: Greg Mottola
Adventureland is a comedy set in 1987 in the image of the director, Greg Mottola. Mottola uses reflective events and characters from his own experiences of a summer job at an amusement park in Long Island, in 1985. The movie is centered around the main character, James Brennan (Jessie Eisenberg), a recent college graduate who was accepted to grad school at Columbia. After a parental career setback, Brennan loses his graduation present, a backpacking trip to Europe and paid living expenses for grad school. Brennan is left with the option of a summer job at a local decrepit amusement park. Unknown to James, this local job sets a perfect course for him to find love with co-worker Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart).
Brennan is a socially awkward, early 20s graduate met with disappointment and spoils of the real world. Casting did well for this find. Eisenberg, along with Michael Cera, fits the profile of awkward, skinny, dorky, and “good guy likeability.” It wasn’t long after this movie that Eisenberg played the role of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Seems that Cera and Eisenberg have a profound “good guy look” and awkward delivery of acting that draw in the audience. We do know that Mottola used life events and characters to make this movie. So, one would have to believe that James Brennan parallels the life of Mottola.
Supporting cast: If you have ever worked a summer job, these character roles are going to sound familiar. We find out early in the movie that the only summer job that Brennan can get is with childhood friend, Tommy Frigo (Matt Bush). Frigo is comic relief throughout the dry points of the movie with his ability to produce nutt-shots to Brennan in his most vulnerable settings. Joel (Martin Starr) brings a dry and sarcastic approach to the summer position. Who doesn’t remember the first person to show you around your work station during the summer? Remember how unenthusiastic and sarcastic that person was and how they immediately became your best friend for the summer? Starr has an uncanny ability to make you like him without trying. SNL counterparts Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader play the managers of the park. Wiig and Hader are the bosses you wish you had. Who wouldn’t want a boss that chases a customer with a bat? Or a boss that tells you, “No one gets a giant panda”. Amazing how this giant panda fiasco introduces Em to the movie. No summer teen movie is complete without the cool, smooth, older guy, Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds), and the hot chick, Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva).
Mottola was able to capture the summer job feel and the fact that like all summer jobs they eventually come to an end. I felt that character development with virgin, awkward, 20-year-old Brennan was spot on. Throughout the summer, Brennan gained both confidence and relationship maturity. However, Mottola fell short with casting in my opinion. Stewart is not a believable sex object, and her inability to act as one makes the affair between her and Reynold's character awkward and slightly statutory. Reynolds is pushing 33 years old when cast for this movie, and although Stewart is supposed to be around 22 in this movie, she looks the part of a 16-year-old. One of the “sex scenes” with Reynolds shows Stewart’s inability to make this a believable scene by her just awkward approach to kissing. It's about as bad as the Twilight movie kiss scenes with Robert Pattinson. She’s actually dating that guy in real life and still cant deliver an intimate kiss. Please, someone teach this girl how to make a believable passionate kiss, rather than this peck-on-the-cheek approach she does. Although, I believe the her approach works with the Eisenberg relationship. Probably because he's supposed to be inexperienced, which would make things awkward at first. That being said, the most awkward and worst intimate scene of the movie is at the end. Since there may be some who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t be the spoiler. But let me just say you're going to use the words “what,” “that never happens,” and “gah that was awful,” to describe it.
I can’t let Reynolds off in the hook in this movie, either. Mike Connell is supposed to be a cool, savvy, struggling musician that could have whatever girl he wanted. This is where I feel Mottola missed. I guess I just expected Reynolds to have brought more comedy to this movie, like his character Monty in the movie Waiting..., instead of the serious, boring, married guy routine, who loves his wife yet needs a side affair to keep him young. I don’t feel this was a good role for him, and he should have walked on this movie.
The setting of the movie was well done. I feel that anyone that grew up in the 80’s could relate to the music and fashion represented throughout. From disco dance clubs, hiked up pants, and hot-pink attire, the 80s were back. Mottola did well with the amusement park also. Reminds me of the local amusement parks as a kid, where you knew the games were rigged and that the rides constantly were broken. I enjoyed the scenes with the staff hanging out in the parking lot after work, talking and waiting for rides. The best part of summer jobs is the immediate friendships you make, because everybody has a story as to why they were left working at this crap job for the summer.
Grades: I believe these are the most important aspects of movies.
Character development: B
Acting: B (managers, Eisenberg, and Starr saved this from a C)
Overall, the movie has funny parts and is relatable to any summer job you’ve ever had. Eisenberg keeps the movie watchable. It’s a movie that I would own and watch occasionally, but not something that has aspects making me want to watch it over and over again.
i think justin did a great job writing his first critique!
adventureland is actually one of my favorites -
i could watch it over & over again!