Tuesday 15 September 2009


A sweet-natured, meandering, coming-of-age comedy-drama is what this movie really is. "From the Director of Superbad", while obviously a hook for financial common sense, doesn't really do justice to what exactly this film is.

Adventureland is both written and directed by Greg Motola, who only directed Superbad - which was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. They're from different generations, and have different sensibilities down at heart seemingly.

While I disagree with what Mark Kermode said - that essentially teenage boys don't talk about the things they did in Superbad, let alone how they go about doing so - that's bullshit, because they flat out do. Teenage boys are raucus, rowdy and raunchy in their dialogue ... creatively so ... and that's the world in which Superbad was living in.

Adventureland is in a completely different world, and one which an equal number of teenage boys will inhabit - the sweetly awkward formative years when you're trying to figure things out.

While Superbad does have a coming of age aspect to it, and indeed a heart underneath the plethora of dick and sex jokes, the theme is far more central to Adventureland's slow-but-steadyily-paced vibe ... some have called it a romantic comedy. Perhaps it is, in a way, but it's nothing like any "romcom" you'll normally see.

It's Stand By Me, but a few years on, set in 1987, and all about a shitty summer job instead of a boys-own adventure to see a dead body. You get the vibe now, surely?

Add in a kick arse soundtrack, gentle and well-observed performances (both central and peripheral), and Kristen Stewart as the effortlessly enchanting "girl all the guys want", and you've got a nostalgic and wistful look back to simpler times - back to writer/director Motola's own formative years.

The laughs are generally gentle and scattered, but that's not the focus of the film. It's not like Superbad which is all about having a bloody good guffaw at some mucky jokes (and a little sweetness on the side), instead it's about connecting to a part of everyone in the audience. A first love, a shitty summer job, trying to figure out your place in the world, and the loss of your innocence.

There's something in there to connect with everyone deep down, be it one or all of those things (and more that remain even subtler, and unmentioned here). Indeed, it can even be for others the summer in their youth that they wished they had ... in fact I would wager many of the audience will come out of Adventureland wishing their summer was something like that, perhaps feeling like they've missed out on something.

Nevertheless, as I've said before - it's a sweet, meandering, coming-of-age comedy-drama - and it's a great little film, which illustrates Motola's nostalgiac, indie spirit.

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