in Review

Rollercoaster of Love


From the director of Superbad comes the latest coming of age teen comedy Adventureland. Advertised as an “R” rated teen comedy much in the same way as Superbad, I think many that go to this film will be surprised to find it’s really more of a “Dramedy” that’s more in the vein of a movie like Say Anything.

Set in the Summer of 1987, Adventureland follows one James Brennan a recent college graduate who plans to spend his summer touring Europe. With his parents primarily paying for the trip, James’ world comes crashing down after his father is demoted and can no longer finance his long awaited journey. This leads to James getting a summer job at an “Adventureland” theme park where he’ll need to save money to pay for his expenses as a grad student at Columbia University the following fall.

The film for the most part derives from writer/director Greg Mottola’s experiences working at an Adventureland theme park in the 80s. We get a cynical look at the day-to-day experiences of bored employees operating fixed games and trying to face mobs of dimwitted customers everyday. Now though it really wasn’t as funny as I was hoping I really enjoyed the relatable situations that these characters faced. Their troubles with relationships and troubles at home I believe made for a more genuine experience.

The characters are likable and clever, my personal favorite being deadpan Apatow regular Martin Starr and Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig gave the film enjoyable moments of more conventional humor. Greg Mottola’s abilities as a writer don’t always shine in the humor department but he definitely understands how to develop good characters and overall realistic and witty dialogue.

The film’s music without a doubt stood out in my mind as memorable. Indie band Yo La Tengo did a spot on job providing the film’s score, but you can’t rule out all the other great artists that appeared on the film’s soundtrack such as; The Replacements, David Bowie, The Cure, The Rolling Stones and especially Lou Reed who as well is mentioned many times in the film. Lou’s song “Satellite of Love” is more or less the film’s recurring theme song.

Had I gone in with a different mindset I probably would of adjusted to the film faster but since I’d anticipated a silly comedy it took me a little longer. Fortunately by the end of the film I’d been won over. Good coming of age stories in my opinion never get old and this, as conventional as it may of been, still made for an entertaining teen “Dramadey.” Or however you want to spell that.