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Score: 72%
Rating: R
Publisher: Miramax
Region: 1
Media: Blu-ray/2
Running Time: 107 Mins.
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD (48
           kHz/24-bit), French 5.1 Dolby

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish


  • Blu-ray Exclusive
    • Frigo's Taps
    • Lisa P's Guide to Style
    • Welcome to Adventureland - Commercials and Training Videos
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Just My Life: The Making of Adventureland
  • Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Greg Mottola and Actor Jesse Eisenberg
  • Picture Music Selection
  • Digital Copy

Adventureland feels like the chronicling of one man's experience over a summer - sort of like when someone shows you photos of a trip they took. It just felt more like one of those "you had to be there" situations, at least to me. Greg Mottola wrote and directed Adventureland loosely based on his experiences in the mid-1980's during a summer where he worked at a crappy theme park. James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has just graduated from college and is ready to embark on his dream trip across Europe before starting grad school at Columbia in the fall. Then his parents (Wendie Malick and Jack Gilpin) drop a bomb on him. His dad has been demoted and they don't have the money to pay for his trip. Furthermore, he'll have to get a summer job to make the money to fund what they had planned to pay for. The shame of it all is that James is highly educated, but doesn't possess the skills jobs are looking for. About all he is qualified for is a job at Adventureland, the theme park where his former best friend from 4th grade, Frigo (Matt Bush), works. Adventureland is run by the very quirky Paulette (Kristin Wiig) and Bobby (Bill Hader). James, or Brennan as most people call him, gets stuck working in the Games section, but it's not all bad, especially when he meets an amazing girl named Em (Kristen Stewart). He starts to fall for her, but Em has her own problems, including a mom who died two years before and a dad (Josh Pais) who married a much younger, but bald idiot named Francy (Mary Birdsong). She is also secretly sleeping with Adventureland's resident Mr. Mystery, the very married Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who is the park's maintenance guy, but is rumored to have once played with Lou Reed back in the day. Things aren't always as they appear, however.

As Brennan and Em start to get to know one another and fall for each other, things get in the way. There's Em's "relationship" with Connell and the fact that she wants to take things slow with Brennan, and then there's the complication of the reappearance of "Lisa P" at Adventureland, the resident hottie. She sets her sites on Brennan because she isn't used to dating nice guys and Connell, as the older and wiser expert on all things female, advises Brennan to go for it. Through a series of miscommunications and misadventures, Brennan discovers Em's relationship with Connell and before you know it, the gossip has spread like wildfire around the park, forcing Em to quit in shame. Once Em is gone, James realizes how much he misses her and loves her and Em realizes the same thing. It's the same old adage, you don't know what you have until you lose it.

Adventureland is a funny movie, but more like Juno funny than Tropic Thunder funny. More "nervous funny" than anything else. Sure, the 80's were a decade to laugh at and the styles that show up in this flick are pretty damn hysterical. Did we ever really look like that? The soundtrack is great, though, with tunes from Falco, The Replacements, Yo La Tengo ("Autumn Sweater," yeah! Wish it had been on there, but it wasn't.), Crowded House and, of course, Lou Reed, among many others. The acting is really good, with wacky characters throughout like Frigo, who insists on ball-tapping everyone all the time. Bill Hader as Bobby is especially funny as the park manager with a few screws loose. When he goes off on some guy and chases him with a baseball bat, it's just priceless. Jesse Eisenberg is really good as the insecure Brennan, and when I first saw him, I thought he was the bastard love-child of Michael Cera and Seth Rogen. OK, so he has Rogen's hair, but his appeal is very Michael Cera. He's very tentative in his ways and really adorable and lovable as James Brennan. Kristen Stewart also does a great job as the coolly aloof Em, the super cool chick who carries off her look with nothing more than baggy cargo pants and a Husker Du t-shirt. This is a character-driven film, for sure, and the characters are interesting. It's just that it seemed to drag on forever.

Sadly, I must admit that I enjoyed the special features more than the actual film. Featurettes included a making-of, standard commentary, music selection, a digital copy of the movie and Blu-ray exclusives in Frigo's Taps and Lisa P's Guide to Style, plus a selection of Adventureland "commercials" and employee training videos. These were really funny, actually, and I got a lot of laughs out of them. The most disappointing feature that could have been so amazing was the song selection with like 30 songs from the movie. However, instead of simply playing the song with some clips from the movie behind it, they play the clip of the film that has the song in it, so you get to hear part of the song plus the dialogue with it. The worst is the fact that I popped the Blu-ray in while I was whipping up something to eat and thought I'd listen to Crowded House's amazing song, "Don't Dream It's Over" and realized pivotal parts of the movie were playing, so I had to quickly turn it off. Poor form! For the curious and "adventurous" among you, there are a few hidden Easter Eggs in the Blu-ray menu, so look out for the huge-ass panda! As for whether to go Blu-ray or DVD, I didn't see any really amazing special effects so I don't really see a need to go hi-def, but the Blu-ray exclusive special features are definitely worth a look. The sound quality was excellent and there were a few times when the surround sound caught me off guard, so it was very effective. If you are merely renting, obviously go for Blu-ray.

That being said, at the most, I can only really recommend Adventureland for a rental, if you are really into character-driven films. The acting is excellent, but the story just bored me. Again, it was like watching someone else's home movies. If "you had to be there" and you weren't, then don't bother.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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