5 Reasons Matt Should See 'Adventureland'

5. It's full of late 1980s post-graduate angst.
4. The field of Semiotics is mentioned 2 minutes into the movie.
3. The main love interest, Kristen Stewart, frequently dons a black Lou Reed T-shirt. ***
2. "I'm In Love With a Girl" by Big Star plays in the background during the first romantic encounter.
1. The movie opens and ends with the Replacements; "Bastards of Young" and "Unsatisfied", respectively.

Ok, so first I need to make clear that while I really enjoyed 'Adventureland,' I would never defend it as a great film. All it really is is a fairly humorous portrait of a guy kind of like me - he's just out of college, hoping to go to graduate school, working a shitty job in the meantime, all while living at his parents' house. It's not a must-see. I'd give it 3.5 stars on Netflix if I rented it. I hadn't even planned on seeing it. I stumbled into the theater after originally wanting to see 'Earth' and realizing 20 min in that it was just Planet Earth redux sans David Attenborough (replaced by James Earl Jones...). I will say, however, that 'Adventureland' was a pleasant surprise.

First off, the soundtrack is killer. Yo La Tengo chose all the tracks and the picked a perfect mixed tape soundtrack for this 1987 period movie: The Replacements, Big Star, Crowded House, Velvet Underground (Ok, so not the 80s but it works). The music evokes late-night summer in the eighties, making you nostalgic for a time you never experienced in the same way 'Sandlot' did for us when we were kids. And that's another surprising aspect of the movie: it lets you know that it's set in the 1980s. For some reason I though this was another Judd Apatow film so the setting (and tone) really threw me off. While there are a few scenes with Reagan on the television talking about Iran-Contra that might cause you to make a Forrest Gump cringe, the movie's dedication to its setting doesn't detract from the overall viewing experience. So it's not a movie ABOUT the 1980s but it's also not 2009 humor tranplanted and thrown into a 1987 costume. It really just lets you experience the sweetness of the late eighties. Lastly, it is not Juno-fied, a direction it could have easily have taken. It really tries to be earnest instead of throwing clever but ultimately meaningless catch phrases at you with the hopes of reminding you "how cool is this movie?".

Matt - I really wish that you could enjoy this movie. And maybe you can. If you can toss off your recently acquired cinematic sensibilities and summon your inner 1980s romantic then perhaps you can appreciate the experience of watching this film. I'm hesitant to make the comparison to Whit Stillman's films (Metropolitan in particular) because I know how highly you regard those. I'll put it this way: it gets as close as Hollywood can to that aesthetic. The movie definitely has its flaws. Jesse Eisenberg's character is a dweeb and a bit too Michael Cera-ish at times. The plot can be formulaic, the dialogue bordering on prosaic. Ryan Reynolds is in it.

Part of me hopes you don't see it because I'm 80% sure that the following scenario will occur. You will read this post and think "Wow, maybe I should see it." You'll go see it, hate it, and then call me and give me shit for telling you to see it. I'll have to hear your film studies bullshit for a half hour while trying to defend the really sweet parts of the movie - parts that I KNOW you thought were totally sweet but can't completely admit to liking. But I have to give it a shot. I had to write this post.

Did I mention that the movie opens with "Bastards of Young" by the Replacements?

***I remembered this morning that there is an addition reason you should see this movie, Matt. Right before Kristen Stewart is about to get it on with Ryan Reynolds, she puts the acoustic version of "Taste of Cindy" by Jesus and Mary Chain on the record player. Totally. Sweet.


Quilliam said...

I'm really into the concept of this blog as a forum to post personal letters to one another.

Hark, email is dead

James said...

Hey, Newman, I've got your Northern Brewer catalog and an AmeriFunds statement from Schafer Condon Carter that came in the mail. You want me to drop it off in your mailbox or should I just wait until the next time I see you?


The question that will make or break this movie for me is as follows: to what degree does this film involve slacking? There's a case to be made for the Replacements as proto-slacker rock (see songs "Hangin' Downtown," "Careless," "Shiftless When Idle," and, of course, the inimitable "Gary's Got a Boner.") Additionally, what stance does the movie take towards the act or posture of slacking? Is there such thing as "slack" filmmaking? Is that or would that be sweet? Also, I really hope Adventureland is a theme park in the movie, because that is one of the ultimate slacker occupations, especially if you're a ride operator, or if you accept the job only because it guarantees you unlimited free Sno-Cones or Dippin' Dots.

Daves n' Davin' said...

Eh, I guess it could be considered a movie about slackers. Jesse Eisenberg's character is a naive romantic who works at the theme park (so yes for question 2) over the summer with a bunch of slackers. He sort of becomes one because of his job. There's some scenes with pot cookies and drug-induced games operation. There's a big class distinction between "rides" workers and "games" workers.

Also, I'm adding an amendment to my post. One acronym: JAMC.

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