Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Film #298


In the summer of 1987, a college grad takes a ‘nowhere’ job at his local amusement park, only to find it’s the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world.

Year 1, Day 305

BEFORE: May has arrived and with it, the last two months of the marathon are finally beginning. Originally, my comedy chain was scheduled to end in April and I was going to start a Star Trek chain in May leading up to the premier of the new film. But things have changed and moved around a bit. I’ll still be watching the Star Trek films, but I’ll use those as my way to catch up for all the days I’ve lost, and will loose (read: double, maybe triple, features). For now though, I’m extending the comedy chain for a few days with Adventureland today.

AFTER: There have been many films before, yesterday’s Anchorman being just one example, that have failed to meet expectations. However, I don’t think any compare to what I was expecting from Adventureland quite literally, because I was expecting another film completely. For whatever reason, and I’m sure you’ll have no clue how I made this connection, between Adventureland and Zombieland. Both have land in the title and star Jesse Eisenberg - I know, almost no connection. Anywho, that’s neither here nor there for what I thought of the movie itself.

There it actually surprised me how much I liked it. After quickly realizing that there would be no zombies and no Woody Harrelson in this movie, my brain had to start figuring out how this amusement park comedy/romance worked. The strength by far, was one also seen in Monsters University - the environment. While the timeframe, 1987, wasn’t that well established, the setting certainly was. It felt like a run-down amusement park where nobody cares about their jobs and is just doing it for the money. It’s no Disney World; it’s like a permanent version of the carnival that might stroll through your town for one week of the summer. And you totally get this vibe: both from the design and the characters. Which leads me to my next surprising point: Kristen Stewart. I haven’t seen Kristen Stewart act before, but as I’m sure many of you have, she isn’t exactly followed by critical praise - quite the opposite in fact for her work with the Twilight saga. But this isn’t about Twilight, it’s about Adventureland and from what I saw here, I was actually thoroughly impressed by Stewart’s performance and would even rank her as one of the best in the film.

Adventureland was just too broad though. It meandered through the summer bringing back plot points (like the parents of the kids) that kept some sort of story going but also felt distracting. You definitely get the feeling and the same experience as what I assume working at an amusement park all summer is like - extremely boring. My initial reaction is, “Why would I ever watch or like a movie that’s intentionally boring like that?” but the more I’m thinking about it, the more interesting it is. But regardless, it still needs a point. Not necessarily a conflict or some detailed background, but the characters need to develop or give us some reason for following their boring summer journey. Adventureland was on the cusp of this, but missed it just ever so slightly. Nonetheless it was still a very interesting film and one worth checking out, but not if you want some action-packed blockbuster. Then I’d find a different movie.

RATING: 4 out of 5