Judd Apatow should be a household name to a lot of people. Yeah, it was he who wrote and created Freaks and Geeks, one of the greatest TV shows ever made. And then he made some great films like The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and This Is 40. And he’s been associated with a handful of classic films, including the ever-legendary Superbad and criminally-underrated Adventureland (both directed by Greg Mottola).
Adventureland coincidentally came out the same year as Zombieland, also starring Jesse Eisenberg. This “land” coincidence made Adventureland slip to the back burner of pop culture…. as zombies were all the rage in the late 2000s, and if people had a choice, they’d probably rather see a “zom-com” than a “rom-com”. Also, it didn’t help that Kristen Stewart was in this, too… two years after everyone couldn’t stop making fun of her character and acting in the absolutely awful book-and-film Twilight (2007).
Despite these small hitches…. Adventureland rocked! Set in 1987, in western Pennsylvania, the film follows intellectual/outsider James Brennan (Eisenberg) who just got his Bachelor’s degree and plans on a summer trip to Europe, followed by attending Columbia University for grad school, but he has to stay at home due to his parents’ financial difficulties, and get a part-time job to help support himself. He applies at Adventureland, a low-budget and admittedly lame theme park near his house.
He meets a motley crew of outsiders who all work there, and quickly becomes friends with all of them. They are all around his age… a little lost in life, and heavily into partying and just killing time as they fumble through their 20s.
I won’t spoil anything for you, but you definitely should see this. The soundtrack alone is god damn perfect…. the opening song being “Bastards of Young” by the Replacements, and throughout the film you’ll hear Lou Reed, The Cure, Crowded House, Expose, The Outfield, INXS, and a fantastic score by indie gods Yo La Tengo. Beyond the music, the character development, especially between Stewart, Eisenberg, and Ryan Reynolds is perfect and very believable. And then you have Eisenberd’s arch-rival “Frigo” (Matt Bush), who is the most funny and annoying character, ever. And how could I forget Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig, as the husband/wife managerial duo of Adventureland? Tremendous. Oh, and last but certainly not least…. “Lisa P.” (Margarita Levieva) …. if you grew up in the 80s…. you had the hots for any girl who looked even remotely like her.
Adventureland is a feel-bad/feel-good sort of film…… with a wonderful and perfect ending. I’ve seen it like 50 times… never gets old.
Don’t be put off by the fact that “The Twilight Girl” is in this…… fuck that noise. Kristen Stewart’s a pretty good actress and certainly better than most people give her credit for. Just a few films she’s awesome in… this, Panic Room, The Cake Eaters, and Speak… check them all out, but definitely do yourself a favor, and give this a shot. It deserves a lot more attention.