I’ve discussed wrong-marketed movies in previous reviews I did. Movies that are marketed as a comedy but turn out to contain more drama than laughs. A new addition to that list is Adventureland, a movie marketed as one of those Apatow-like teen-sex-comedies like Superbad or Sex Drive. Hell, this movie is even directed by the director of Superbad and has Bill Hader in one of the roles so that doesn’t help. So I sat there, expecting a movie about some horny teens filling their summer days in an amusement park with smoking pot, having sex, playing gags. Fifteen minutes into the movie I realized the comedy still was nowhere to be found and slowly but surely it came to me: I’m watching a teen drama.
The movie felt more to like something John Hughes would’ve made back in the 80’s and it’s probably no coincidence the movie is set in the 80’s, 1987 to be exact. The movie is about a nerdy guy named James who, after his dad received a pay-cut, has to get a job during the summer vacation. He gets one at a local theme-park called Adventureland and is quite rapidly attracted to Emily, or as everybody calls her: Em. The attraction is surprisingly likewise and so these two should be set for a good relationship or at least a summer romance. But there are factors in play that will not make it that simple; Emily has skeletons in her closet, James takes advice on women from a “player” and most of the times the characters are either high, drunk or both. But what do you expect when your customers will try to knife if you don’t hand over a Big Ass Panda?
The movie is more sweet than it is raunchy. Sure there’s sex-talk, punches to the groin and several bodily fluid gags (which all fall flat) but in the end Adventureland is a sweet movie about teen relationships with fleshed out characters. Nothing like a movie like Superbad. The only comedy that does work is that of Bill Hader, who is his usual self and is the only one who’s actually funny. All the other characters are rather serious and played straight. In the beginning I was disappointed about the lack of comedy, I received something different than I expected but throughout the movie I started to care about the central characters.
Adventureland is an adequate teen drama, but not perfect. Any humor in the script other than that of Bill Hader falls flat and I never really bought into how the nerdy main character not only scores with one cute lady but also with the sexiest girl amongst the employees. That basically never happens in real life unless the nerd is wealthy.
They should make a comedy about that.