Adventureland is like a more grown up version of Superbad, and not just in terms of the situations and relationships, but also in terms of the overall film. It’s almost like we’re watching Director Greg Mottola grow up in front of us via film. First, in Superbad he took us through what it’s like being a teenager whose only goal in life is to get wasted and laid and now in Adventureland we see him become his own man who can’t find a job or commit to a woman. I hate comparing the two films, because they are independently amazing, but I can’t help but notice a number of recurring themes that give them both a definitive Mottola stamp. I can say that this film has taken everything that Superbad one step further, and as a result, it’s even greater than the first.
The reason why both films are so hilarious is because they are both very real. They both capture the pains of growing up, the excruciating agony of not knowing how to just be yourself, the torture of being in love but not knowing how to say it, and of course the multitude of ways we fuck things up while desperately trying to do what’s right. I don’t think there is a person out there who can’t relate to one or more of those topics.
The reason why this film hits home more than Superbad, is because it’s not always funny. In fact there are many moments that are simply honest and dramatic, and because of that this, the comedic moments feel more real and therefore more funny when they do come up. There is a lot of difficult subject matter to deal with in this film, because peoples lives are not simple, and sometimes it’s our darkest moments that can bring the most light.
Aside for the few people out there that live in the bubble (oh, John Hamm) the rest of us seem to be filled with flaws that we constantly try to hide and yet always seem to jump up and bite us in the ass. When you watch the characters in this film you that you can relate to them, because no one is perfect. Mottola doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of peoples lives but flaunts them and then finds the humors in them. As a result, you find yourself, not only laughing at what is going on, but having an invested interest in the characters. The result is the feeling that you’re on the inside of a very private joke, which makes the film all the more funny.
As for the acting, it wouldn’t have been possible to get a better ensemble cast for this film. Kristen Stewart is vulnerable, as well as threatening to those around her, Jesse Eisenberg is entitled and yet charmingly pathetic, Ryan Reynolds plays a loser that survives of the imagine of being “cool”, Matt Bush plays the annoying kid who you knew growing up that never left you alone, Matrin Starr is the guy that who is much smarter than you but will never go anywhere because of his own insecurities, and Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig (my favorite parts in the film) represent that insane couple who you think have no grasp on reality and yet somehow they seem to be able to keep it together when no one else can.
I could go into details of each actors performance, but all you really need to know is that each one of them nailed what they were trying to represent perfectly. They were fresh, unexpected, and spot on.
Although I’m writing a review and this seems like a cop out, this really is a film that you need to experience for yourself instead of having someone tell you about it. It’s going to be remembered, just like Superbad, as one of the defining comedies of our generation. There is a heart to Mottola’s work that makes his films so powerful, and even though this film is set in the 80′s, it’s timeless.
But don’t believe me! Check in out in theaters starting TODAY (April 3rd, 2009)!