We get it. Teens are awkward, make hasty relationship decisions, and enjoy their alcohol and marijuana. Greg Mottola, writer/director, embraces these formulaic concepts that have historically proven to be quite successful, and throws in a twist: The teens aren’t really teens. They’re recent college grads, and the lead character, James Brennan, played by Jesse Eisenberg strikes an oddly personal chord in his inability to find any sort of job. He eventually accepts a carnie position at a local theme park, and, surprise surprise, makes friends and falls in love with a co-worker.
Throughout the movie, you can’t shake the feeling that Mottola was writing James’ character with Michael Cera in mind to play the part. The result is an Eisenberg that is frustratingly awkward, and does a poor job at convincing me, the audience, to sympathize with the guy. None of the characters feel like 22 or 23 year old college-aged kids, despite several bar scenes. They all feel 17 or 18, even though Eisenberg himself happens to be 25.
For a movie that seemed to be marketed as a comedy, it does a horrible job producing any laughs. To be fair, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig do an admirable job in their overly-obvious roles as comedic relief, but I’m a huge Bill Hader fan. The repetitive, dry, humor that perpetuated throughout the movie gave me the feeling that Mottola was going for a darker, indie, comedy (Side note: maybe it’s just me, but it seems that calling a movie a dark comedy is an excuse for forced or esoteric humor). I ultimately didn’t find the movie, in general, all that humorous, though I could see some people finding enjoyment in the effort.
The movie’s saving grace was, surprisingly, the soundtrack. Husker Du, Falco, and The Cure all were expertly woven into the story and actually really added to the scenes in which they appeared. Looking at the tracklisting, it really does look more like an 80’s mixtape than soundtrack, which, in the end, probably makes it work.
Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t pay to watch Adventureland again. However, I don’t regret watching it, and I’d probably recommend it to a friend if they were in a romantic-drama mood and wanted to watch a movie without having to invest their undivided attention in the film.