catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 9 :: 2009.04.24 — 2009.05.08


Taking us back

When you graduate from college, does your life begin or is it the beginning of the end? In writer-director Greg Mottola’s follow up to the uproarious Superbad, a tough act to follow, we get an angle on the answer to this question with another rousing rendition of adolescent angst deep-fried in raucous humor.

Mottola always seems to find the right niche with his ensemble casts and Adventureland is no different. By giving us characters that are loveably flawed and immature, he provides plenty of opportunities to vicariously reminisce and relate.  Crude humor is an attempt to make our pasts more faceable and help the audience navigate either fear of unhappiness or its outright and full-blown reality.

Adventureland hinges on Jesse (Jesse Eisenberg), who is relegated to a menial job at a local amusement park when his college graduation plans fall through. Instead of a European vacation, Jesse finds himself besieged on all sides by cotton-candy high kids, Skee-Ball and roller coasters. Populating his life are a myriad of characters (with some great performances) like Em (Kristen Stewart), his trouble-at-home summer fling — well sort of — and the kooky park owners (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig).

A quasi-autobiographical piece based on Mottola’s experience at a Long Island amusement park, Adventureland mirrors his 1996 film Daytrippers moreso than Superbad. What’s most memorable about the film, beside the good performances turned out by the actors, is how Mottola captures the essence and simplicity of the story through music. Odds are, the tunes that were playing on the radio when you were making out with so-and-so or having your heart broken will be rediscovered here. All in all, Mottola and crew have captured the nostalgic tones of adolescence by drawing on a storehouse of troubled and peculiar feelings associated with the songs of artists like Whitesnake, Falco, Lou Reed, David Bowie, INXS, The Velvet Underground and The Cure.

Because, when you don’t even qualify for manual labor and you only have five-minute bathroom breaks every two hours (save up in case you have to go number two), you realize that life is both not as bad, yet worse then you could have ever imagined, but that’s life. Adventureland recalls for us that all too familiar ambivalence of a past you can’t have back and that you wouldn’t revisit if you actually could. Oh, and, “Don’t ever eat the corndogs!”

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