Adventureland once again ranks high on a 2009 movie list. This time taking first place as the “Den of Geek’s” most underappreciated movie of the year.
Billing Adventureland as “From the director of Superbad” arguably did the film few favours. That’s nothing against Superbad – a film we’ve had a good chuckle at, and the movie that gave us McLovin – but it’s more to do with the different tone that writer-director Greg Mottola chose for his follow-up film.
Adventureland is a terrific movie. It’s nominally the story of Jesse Eisenberg’s James, who takes a summer job at a local theme park when his parents break the news to him that they can’t fund his trip to Europe. There, he meets a strong ensemble of well-written characters, including Em (Kristen Stewart, proving there’s life outside of Twilight with a great performance), Mike (the always-dependable Ryan Reynolds), Paulette (Kristen Wiig) and the object of attention Lisa P (Margarita Levieva). Plus there’s the small matter of Bill Hader as Bobby, turning in an excellent cameo, and the always brilliant Martin Starr (familiar to fans of Freaks & Geeks, of course) as Joel. Seriously, it’s a film worth seeing for Martin Starr alone, who needs to be given lead roles. Lots of them.
Often very funny (the fixing of some of the theme park’s games is great), it’s more the believability, though, that gets Adventureland to the top of this list. It’s a brilliantly written, utterly believable film, backed by a terrific soundtrack. It’s also a bit darker than you may be expecting, with some emotionally low moments, but it’s all the better for it. It simply makes it feel real.
The film trickled to $16m in the US, yet it’s easily one of the best 10 released in 2009, for this writer’s money. Let DVD and Blu-ray be its salvation, and we’ve put Mottola’s next film Paul (starring and written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg) right near the top of our to-watch list.