Adventureland (2009) – Film Review

This comedy/drama from 2009 is an underrated classic in my opinion, as Greg Mottola (Superbad, Paul) brings us a simple yet effective story of two young people from different worlds meeting over one memorable summer, and while it may not be as hilarious as some of his other films. I do feel Greg Mottola has brought us a much more emotional story this time round, with the comedy not too far behind.

Taking place in the summer of 1987, where a college graduate takes a ‘nowhere’ job at his local amusement park, only to soon find it’s the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world. Meeting new friends and sending him down a new life path, while this is nothing incredibly original in regards to storytelling, the film does make the most of it’s simple plot.

For a film like this, it’s crucial that the characters are likable and are given plenty of development, as in my opinion, drama really only works within film if the characters are developed enough to be invested in. Luckily, the film succeeds here, creating very funny and mostly realistic characters within only a short amount of time. As the film doesn’t waste screen-time setting up it’s narrative and characters, but always does so in a way that doesn’t feel too fast-paced.

All of the cast are also pretty great here, as Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Kristen Wiig and Ryan Reynolds all have decent chemistry with each other, and don’t simply treat their characters as joke machines. Bill Hader as the park manager: ‘Bobby’ has to be my personal favorite however, purely through his hilarious dialogue leading to many brilliant moments throughout the run-time.

Being set in an amusement park local to the home of the protagonist, this is where the cinematography by Terry Stacey really shines. As the film really uses the different rides and attractions as well as the colourful lighting as a beautiful backdrop for many great scenes, as the film is always very inventive with the different locations of the park, exploring new areas in each scene, with some locations even being used to reflect a character’s personality.

The original score by Yo La Tengo also helps add to the 1980s atmosphere, being mostly subtle yet still effective in many scenes. Various other songs from the 80s are also used throughout the film, everything from iconic classics to more unknown songs get a short appearance. With all of it eventually adding up to a pretty fantastic soundtrack, as well as another link back to the time-period.

The film also uses a bright orange, yellow and blue colour palette throughout it’s narrative, which really enhances the film’s visuals. The main issue with the film for me is it’s comedy, as mentioned, the film does have plenty of comedic moments. But I simply feel the film has far more in regards to drama then in regards to comedy, as the majority of it’s memorable moments are for emotional purposes. There was also a sub-plot between two characters which I felt was a little rushed over, but as this was near the film’s ending, this may have been done to avoid a lack of focus.

Although ‘Adventureland’ is nothing incredible in regards to it’s filmmaking, I personally really enjoy the film. As I’ll always find myself turning back to it when in need of a more up-beat flick, with a unique setting and a great cast of characters, there isn’t much to dislike here. Some of the film’s comedy could be improved, but I wouldn’t say this drags the entire film down. Overall, I’d say this one is a 8/10, definitely check this one out if you can, I feel it really deserves more attention.

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