Adventureland

[3.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Yes, a second quirky comedy in a row. Comparisons with Sunshine Cleaning are inevitable: Adventureland is funnier, but has less sympathetic characters. It's set in the late 1980's and seemingly based on writer/directory Greg Mottola's own life.

The protagonist is James, a recent college graduate whose dreams are crashing to earth. His father's been demoted, probably due to his alcoholism. But uppermost on James' mind is: how does this affect me? His plans for a summer tour of Europe are out. And grad school at Columbia is doubtful unless he can make some serious summer-job money. Unfortunately, James' marketable job skills are minimal, so he winds up at the local cheesy amusement park. And (as he seems instinctively to realize) not in one of the good "rides" jobs; no, he's relegated to the lower-tier "games" area, taking the rubes' money and giving away trashy prizes.

James gets to rub shoulders with people his previous life path would have steered him away from. They're not stupid, at least not most of them, but they've all got issues of one kind of another. And they're seemingly all making it through the summer fueled by prodigous quantities of alcohol and marijuana. James is particularly attracted to the smart, aloof Em, who's at the park seemingly solely to irk her dad and stepmom. Em is involved with older (and married) Mike, the park mechanic.

So there's a lot of comic potential; instead, there's a lot of soap-opera angst, betrayal, and drama. I couldn't find a reason to care much about what happened to these shallow kids. Still, watchable.

Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig from SNL are very funny as the Adventureland proprietors, however.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 2:15 PM EDT