Reviewed on 2009 April 7
I thought this would be a comedy, based on the fact that it came from the freaks that brought us Superbad and based on the marketing, and it’s not. That’s not a complaint — I really enjoyed this — but it’s not funny in the traditional sense. It’s more thoughtful and nostalgic, though Bill Hader does get in some funny bits.
James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is prepared to go to grad school at Columbia, until his mother (Wendy Malick) lets him know their changed financial situation won’t allow that. In a sequence that will resonate with anyone trying to get work anywhere, he struggles to get a summer job and winds up at Adventureland, a dumpy amusement park (in the movie anyway, I’ve never been to the real thing). He can’t even get a break here, since he was looking for something on the quiet side and his boss Bobby (Hader) corrals him into the forced, noisy midway stuff. For a while it looks like the only bright spots will be the parties thrown by Em (Kristen Stewart) and his college-style bull sessions with the brilliant but geeky Joel (Martin Starr).
It’s basically 107 minutes of Jesse interacting with the crew, circa 1987 and set to a good soundtrack. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? And yet it is. I was expecting silly and when I saw something introspective and well-done I was surprised but not disappointed. The acting was very natural from everyone (except Hader, who’s supposed to be a goof).
Superbad was set in high school, this followed some college-age kids. I hope the Apatow crew decides to tackle adults in the urban or suburban office work force next.
Three chocolate morsels.