We continue Cheesy Romance Month with one of the movies that I point to as evidence that not only can Kristen Stewart act, but she can be a damn good actor when put in the right role. Adventureland was a 2009 movie when the combination of Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera, Ellen Page, and Emma Stone ruled the world especially when it came to coming of age romantic comedies. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Zombieland, Easy A, and the movie that started it all Juno are just a handful of examples of the movies that these four starred in and Adventureland falls right in there with the rest of them. The movie stars Jesse Eisenberg as well as Kristen Steward with a couple of surprise appearances here and there and is one of the better movies of the pack of awkward young adult rom coms and yet surprisingly is one of the most forgotten. The reasons for that we will delve into later in the review.
Adventureland is the story of James Brennen (Jesse Eisenberg). He is a recent college graduate and virgin who wants to attend graduate school. However his parents are unwilling to fund it so he takes a job at Adventureland running some of the rigged games over the summer to make a little extra cash so that he can go himself. While there he meets and befriends many of the workers which includes a nihilistic philosopher named Joel (Martin Starr), the park mechanic and part time musician Connell (Ryan Reynolds), and finally the alluring Emily “Em” Lewin (Kristen Stewart)
Em and Brennen begin to form a relationship, unbeknownst to Brennen that Em has been engaging in an affair with Connell, unknown to Connell’s wife. The story follows Brennen and Em as they work at the theme park and continue their relationship.
Maybe it is because of Stephen King’s The Stand used it so well and I am little biased to anyone who uses Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over but the soundtrack to Adventureland is excellent. The 80’s soundtrack works very well with the movie and helps firmly set it in the time period. Each song and instrumental accentuates the scenes that they are placed in and remains one of the best soundtrack accompaniments for a movie I have seen in a very long time.
This is a very well casted movie. I am not a fan of Ryan Reynolds. In my opinion with the exception of Smoking Aces the only thing the guy has going for him is he can play Van Wilder in any role that is given to him. But in Adventureland he really works. I get the idea that he is this smarmy, adulterous asshole who looks cool on the outside but once you get to know him, he is just kind of sad.
Kristen Stewart has always been an underrated actor in my opinion and does not deserve the flack she gets from the internet. I can go on and on that her portrayal of Bella Swan as a narcissistic psychopath was spot on, but that is a story for another day. But she is excellent in this movie. She does have a bit of dead pan seriousness that she is known for, but she brings a lot of personality to the role and makes Em a three-dimensional character.
Jesse Eisenberg is fantastic in the role as always and portrays the socially awkward literature graduate very well. Everyone in the movie does an excellent job and should be commended… Actually they were when they were nominated Best Ensemble Cast Performance at the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards
College Students Acting Like High Schoolers
I can’t help it and maybe it is just me… But these people do not act like normal functioning adults. They act like they are in high school. If it wasn’t for the fact that the characters are seen drinking and mention college on several occasions, I would just assume that Connell was the oldest one at the age of twenty-one.
The relationships and the problem for lack of a better term, feel like high school. They are trapped in some small area, forced to fraternize, men ask out women like they are being placed in front of a firing squad, and their idea of a fun evening is going to some strange and obscure night club that looks like it is straight out of after prom.
I wouldn’t be so critical if it was for the fact that the people in this movie come across as so vapid and so shallow. It is as if they don’t truly understand how relationships work with the exception of Girl + Boy = Sex.
This movie is good, very good in fact. However it is surprisingly one of the most forgotten movies of the 2000’s. Nobody talks about this movie. Nobody remembers this movie even when looking over Eisenberg, Reynolds, or Stewart’s movies. Is it because Kristen Stewart is related to the Twilight franchise and has been poison for most of the careers of the people in that movie? I don’t think so, it isn’t enough reason to bury this movie. It did not even have a very strong showing in the box office, only accumulating $17.5 million. Why is that?
I think the reason the movie was not so strong is that it just doesn’t have enough character. Beyond the stars, the story is pretty one note. It is good, don’t get me wrong, there just isn’t enough to it. Not to mention the idea of working at an amusement park as a post-graduate is not highly relatable to many people and the idea of the relationships coming off as very high schoolish instead of acting their age doesn’t help matters either.
The fact is Adventureland just doesn’t have an identity. The other movies like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Juno do have character, they have an identity… Adventureland just doesn’t and is the reason why it is so obscure today.
Though it will be lost to the eons, Adventureland is a good movie. it is well acted across the board, the story is enjoyable, and the romance is believable. It does come across as very ‘high school drama’ and there isn’t much character beyond that, but it is at least worth a once over watch on Netflix.
Final Score 3/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more from me.