The age of ex­pe­ri­ence

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

A GLANCE AT the synopsis of Ad­ven­ture­land might sug­gest that Greg Mot­tola, di­rec­tor of Su­per­bad, has at­tempted a pe­riod re­make of that ear­lier, hugely suc­cess­ful youth com­edy.

His new film fol­lows a so­cially in­se­cure col­lege grad­u­ate who, due to fi­nan­cial set­backs at home, is forced to aban­don plans to tour Europe and in­stead takes a sum­mer job in a di­lap­i­dated Pittsburgh theme park. There, he meets an im­pos­si­bly cool girl, a suave older guy and an un­happy ec­cen­tric with aw­ful hair. There’s even some com­edy vom­it­ing.

This thought­ful, touch­ing pic­ture is, how­ever, much closer in tone to Mot­tola’s loose-limbed de­but, The Daytrip­pers. Slightly sham­bolic, de­lib­er­ately un­der­played, it oc­ca­sion­ally comes across like a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween John Hughes and John Cas­savetes. (We mean that in a good way.)

Es­say­ing an older, much nicer ver­sion of the know-it-all he played in The Squid and the Whale, Jesse Eisen­berg turns up as the in­fu­ri­at­ingly un­cer­tain James. Af­ter fail­ing to se­cure even the most me­nial wait­ing job, James is snapped up by the en­dear­ingly earnest pro­pri­etors (the ter­rific Bill Hader and Kris­ten Wiig) of the tit­u­lar car­ni­val. This is 1987 and, with no in­ter­net to dis­tract them, the lo­cal kids still en­joy throw­ing hoops over milk bot­tles and rid­ing on hideously danger­ous Chair-O-Planes.

James soon be­comes ob­sessed with Em, a de­cent, if slightly mopey girl, played with im­pres­sive fragility by Kris­ten Ste­wart. Un­aware that she is hav­ing an af­fair with an older, mar­ried lothario (Ryan Reynolds), James starts dream­ing of drag­ging the trou­bled Big Star fan to New York.

Beau­ti­fully acted, fea­tur­ing some nim­ble hand­held cam­er­a­work, Ad­ven­ture­land has the qual­ity – the re­cent death of au­thor Keith Water­house prompts such thoughts – of a looser, less stub­bornly mis­er­able Billy Liar. It is also no­table for shun­ning lazy car­i­ca­tures of the 1980s as an age of pink leg­warm­ers, and imag­in­ing a twilit era in which ev­ery ra­dio played The Vel­vet Un­der­ground or Hüsker Dü.

This ide­al­i­sa­tion is, of course, even more unreal than Leg­warmerville, but it makes Ad­ven­ture­land a very charm­ing spot in which to spend an hour or so.

Stay­ca­tion: Jesse Eisen­berg and Martin Starr in Ad­ven­ture­land

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.