A Review By Jason L. King
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kirsten Stewart, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds
Directed by: Greg Mottola
Rated: R for language, drug use and sexual references.
Movie Released: 2009
Does anyone remember the 80’s anymore? It’s hard for me to remember back that far. What scares me more is kids that are now in college weren’t even born in the 80’s and a rock stars like Bret Michaels and Gene Simmons have their own reality shows. Even Hulk Hogan has his own reality show. President Regan’s name is thrown around by wannabe conservative thinkers as a moniker for their own ideas as they try to drum up ratings for their own political careers or their cable news shows. Gone like the cold war, the 80’s have gone leaving only remnants of the time behind in vintage t-shirts, washed up stars and remakes of 80’s movies and tv shows. The only part of the 80’s still alive and kicking in full swing are Aerosmith (barely kicking…) and the Stones, but we all know that Kieth Richards can not be killed by mortal weapons. (Wayne’s World 2 reference- The Mike would be so proud).
Adventureland takes us on a trip back to the 80’s in this tale about a college student who is forced to get a job at a theme park for the summer to pay for graduate school. Reluctant at first, he hates his job but as he meets Em, he falls in love and has one of the best summer of his life.
The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Kirsten Stewart, Bill Hader and Jesse Eisenberg and so it has a hodge podge of famous names in it. I’m pretty sure that one of the main character’s friends is the kid that throws away his rollover minutes and is constantly being scolded by Mom in AT&T commercials, but I have not confirmed this. (And that right there folks is why this site is NOT the #1 source on the internet for movie reviews! -This part of the review will not make sense in 6 months from posting, so ignore it!!!). Anyhow, Ryan Reynolds does what a Ryan Reynolds does. He plays the Mr. Fixit version of Van Wilder. Full of wise quips of information and advice he is there simply to advance the plot and be the smooth talking guy that you love even though you should hate him. SNL star Bill Hader plays the park manager, a truly bizzare person who loves his job a little too much. Telling Hader to act over top, awkward and strange is not too far fetched since he does it every week on SNL, however his character is too strange for the film. I have never had a boss that weird (and here’s hoping my employees have not either!).
And then, there is Kristen Stewart. Beware Twi-hards I am going to bash your beloved Bella, but hear me out on this one. Kristen Stewart can not act. She was in the right place at the right time for Twilight and she really isn’t too bad looking either. She’s like the Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton of the acting world. She is popular now just for being popular. There is no talent involved. She was terrible as a kid in films like Panic Room where she played Jodie Foster’s boy/girl diabetic child, and she has grown up to be terrible in films like Adventureland. Stewart walks around with an emo, “I don’t care”, “I’m too good for this” attitude. She acts like being on screen is a chore both in movies and in public appearances. I just can’t stand it. If your life is so hard Kristen quit acting and go live in the mountains somewhere!!! I’m tired of seeing that blank stare on your face! After watching another low level performance by Stewart in this film she is quickly making the ranks actresses that are a waste of space, right behind Thandie Newton and Kirsten Dunst.
Jesse Eisenberg, the film’s main character, is what you would get if Andy Samberg and Michael Cera had a child their own age. He’s the poor man’s Michael Cera, and probably wouldn’t have gotten the part if Michael Cera wasn’t busy doing something else at the time. (I have no clue if Cera was even offered a part in this film, it just feels like he should have been attached). Eisenberg does a good job in the film and holds his own even against Reynolds but his performance falls flat much like the rest of this film.
While I wanted this film to be hillarious, I found myself checking my watch for the runtime and chuckling a few odd times. One of the funniest parts of the film is the monotone kid showing Eisenberg how all the games are rigged so no one could win “a giant ass panda.” As the kid so nicely put it, “If someone wins a giant ass panda on your shift, clock out and go home because you are fired.” The other was the ride that repeated “Rock Me Amadeus” over and over again. The rest of the film felt like a forced love story with shallow characters and a ton of pot smoking. It was like a bad attempt to remake Waiting and shoot it in a theme park.
The end result on Adventureland is simple. You’re not missing much…at all. Skip it. Think of “a giant ass panda” as that feeling you get when you watch a really good movie. Like the monotone kid in the movie says, “No one wins a giant ass panda here.” Why waste your time with Adventureland if there is no giant ass panda at the end anyway? Go rent and watch WAITING instead. It is a much better film, that kind of goes along with the same genre.