Adventureland (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
August 21, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“A hilarious film which will definitely bring 80’s nostalgia courtesy of its awesome soundtrack to viewers. A genuine, hilarious and entertaining film with a talented cast. If you are looking for a different kind of romantic comedy on Blu-ray, definitely give ‘Adventureland’ a try!”
DURATION: 107 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-Bit, French 5.1 Dolby Digital), Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Miramax Films
RATED: R (For Language, Drug Use and Sexual Reference)
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Directed and Written by Greg Mottola
Executive Producer: William Horberg, Bruce Toll
Producer: Anne Carey, Ted Hope, Sidney Kimmel
Co-Producer: Declan Baldwin
Cinematography: Terry Stacey
Edited by Anne McCabe
Casting by Nancy Mosser, Katie Shenot
Production Design by Stephen Beatrice
Art Direction by Matthew Munn
Set Decoration by Cristina Casanas
Costume Design by Melissa Toth
Jesse Eisenberg as James Brennan
Kristen Stewart as Em Lewin
Ryan Reynolds as Mike Connell
Kelsey Ford as Arlene
Michael Zegen as Eric
Ryan McFarland as Brad
Jack Gilpin as Mr. Brennan
Wendie Malick as Mrs. Brennan
Margarita Levieva as Lisa P
Matt Bush as Tommy Frigo
Kristen Wiig as Paulette
Bill Hader as Bobby
Martin Starr as Joel
Paige Howard as Sue O’Malley
Dan Bittner as Pete O’Malley
From the director of Superbad comes Adventureland, “a smart, witty comedy” (Kyle Smith, New York Post) we can all relate to. And the sights and sounds are even more awesome on Blu-ray.
When James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has to cancel his dream summer vacation and make some money for grad school, the only job he can get is at Adventureland, a tacky amusement park where the game are rigged and the rides makes you hurl. But it’s where he meets Em (Kristen Stewart, Twilight), and his rollercoaster ride to nowhere turns into the best summer ever. Filled with a carnival of colorful characters and set to a killer soundtrack, Adventure land is “the kind of adventure we could all use more of” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times) – especially in Blu-ray High Definition.
In 2009, writer and director Greg Mottola’s (“Superbad”, “Arrested Development” and “Undeclared”) film “Adventureland” was released in theaters and for the most part, received positive reviews from the film critics. Now the film receives its High Definition treatment via Blu-ray (which includes a digital copy) and also a DVD release.
The film takes place in the 80’s and revolves around James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg, “The Village” and “Solitary Man”), a Comparative Literature major who graduated from Oberlin College and plans to pursue his undergraduate degree at Columbia University but first, celebrate his graduation by taking advantage of his family’s gift to send him to Europe over the summer.
Unfortunately, his father (Jack Gilpin, “21”, “Law & Order”) was moved to a new department which pays less money than his previous job and thus his mother (Wendie Malick, “Just Shoot Me!”, “Fillmore”, “Frasier”), break the news to him that the money saved for the trip is now gone, nor can they pay for his college.
So, now James must save up money for his trip to Europe by looking for a job. Unfortunately, finding a job has been too difficult and leaves him with his last resort, working at the local summer theme park known as “Adventureland” and is under the constant eye of his boss Bobby (Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and his wife Paulette (Kristin Wiig, “Saturday Night Live”, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”).
James ends up working with Russian Literature major and all-round nerd Joel (Martin Starr, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”, “Superbad” and “Knocked Up”); his former childhood best friend Tommy Frigo (Matt Bush, “Halloween II”) who is now more of a jerk (and for some apparent reason, keeps hitting James in the nads); the technician and musician Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds, “The Proposal”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”); the Lou Reed fan Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart, “Twilight” films) and the sexy Lisa P (Margarita Levieva, “Spread” and “Vanished”).
While working at Adventureland, James begins a friendship with his co-workers and eventually gets invited to Em’s party. While at the party, the two end up hitting it off and James becomes smitten with her, but he is unaware that Em and Mike Connell have some sort of relationship behind-the-scenes, despite Mike being a married man.
And it’s hard for anyone to look down on Mike Connel. It appears that everyone at Adventureland looks up to Connell. Especially with rumors that he played guitar with Lou Reed, let alone being popular with the women who think he is a rock star. So, naturally for James (who has not had much experience with girls or dating), he starts to go to Connell for love advice.
But through his summer job at Adventureland, James learns a lot about himself, about love but also the pain of being in love.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Adventureland” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) and cinematographer Terry Stacey (“Sex and the City”, “P.S. I Love You” and “Wanderlust” does a good job in bringing the look of the 1980’s to film. One thing that people will notice is the amount of grain on the film. For those who love the film look, the film definitely retains its grain and shows no sign of DNR (Digital Noise Reduction).
For the most part, the film is shot outdoors at a theme park and is shot primarily during the day, thus you get a good amount of color during those sunny days. While night time shots are either at the amusement park, inside a car or inside a home. For the most part, blacks are nice and deep and of course, there is shadowing but its typically due to the lighting of the amusement park. But overall, “Adventureland” is a film that looks good and the grain definitely gives the film a sort of nostalgic look to it.
As for the audio, the film is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-Bit) and also French 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue driven and music-based film. Dialogue is clear and understandable through the front and center channels while popular 80’s music is a big plus for this film and will definitely be appreciated for those who grew up during this time. Although the film does not utilize major sound effects, there are scenes such as fireworks during July 4th that really sound nice and poppy through your front and surrounds.
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Adventureland” comes with the following special features in 1080p or 480i, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, English SDH, French and Spanish:
Deleted Scenes – (2:27) Deleted scenes featuring: Drunk Mom , Angry Grandfather, James Keeps Quiet. With optional audio commentary by writer and director Greg Mottola
Audio Commentary – Writer/director Greg Mottola and actor Jesse Eisenberg talk about film. Mottola sets up the scene but for the most part the commentary often features the two joking around while doing commentary. Interesting comments on the number of songs licensed for the film and the challenges Mottola faced when their budget was low but need a song for the ending credits.
Just My Life: The Making Of Adventureland – (16:31) Director and writer Greg Mottola sits down to reveal how his real life experiences helped inspire his unique comic vision for Daytrippers, Superbad, Arrested Development and now Adventureland. Cast members Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader, and Martin Starr also talk candidly about what shaped them into who they are today, including the worst job they ever had.
Picture Music Selection – For those who enjoyed the 80’s music from the film, you can view segments from the film featuring an artist or band’s music.
Frigo’s Ball Tap – (2:29) The “drive by,” the “ambush,” the “stranger,” the “tying of the shoe” and the knee-buckling, tear-inducing “Bangkok” are just a few of the nad numbing moves demonstrated by the testicle tapping guru himself, Matt Bush.
Lisa P’s Guide To Style – (2:08) Ms. “Rides, Rides, Rides” herself, Lisa P (Margarita Levieva), shares her totally hip, totally ‘80s fashion advice from spiral locks to neon pink nail polish.
Welcome to Adventureland – Fans can learn all there is to know about the Adventureland theme park with a pair commercials promoting Fun-tastic Time at Adventure Land (:33 ) and another for fireworks at Adventureland (:42), the employee orientation kit (3:34) hosted by Joel and a peek at the official drug policy (:44).
EASTER EGG: I also found an Easter Egg for the Blu-ray version. Move left on your remote while “Bonus Features” is highlighted and you will see panda bear. Click on the panda bear to access a Kristen Stewart trying to get into the Razzmatazz dance club. (1:24)
For those who are interested in “Adventureland”, one may think that Director Mottola is back with another “SuperBad” style of movie but I just want to emphasize that although “Adventureland” does have many humorous elements and the fact that there is a lot of scenes with the characters smoking weed, “Adventureland” is very much a love story. Call it a genuine romantic comedy.
What makes this film quite enjoyable is its colorful cast of characters and its wonderful music. It can easily be called an 80’s-style film, pot film (definitely not a hardcore stoner film) but the characters are what makes this film so enjoyable. You can easily remember Tommy Frigo and his crazy nad hitting antics, Lisa P’s sexy 80’s dance moves, Joel trying to understand James and how he was able to become closer with Em and even Adventureland managers Bobby and Paulette who are just crazy in their own way.
As for the main talent, Jesse Eisenberg was just perfect as James Brennan. Eisenberg does a great job portraying the awkward Brennan and how he grows as a person throughout the summer. Kristen Stewart also is a natural in playing the role of Em and bringing that sense that she’s a troubled teen and showing us that she has more to offer outside of her popular role in “Twilight” (note: Stewart filmed “Adventureland” before filming “Twilight” but the latter came out in theaters first).
As for Ryan Reynolds, his character as Mike Connell is a bit hard to read at first but you eventually see his true colors as the film progresses. I sort of look at him as a man stuck within his former self of what he could have been but now thrives on being popular to those at the theme park and those people making him out better than he truly is.
But for the most part, the characters seem real and genuine, thus making the film much more enjoyable. As a romantic comedy, it’s not the best but it’s hard to deny the captivating storyline. I really enjoyed watching this film!
As for the music, “Adventureland” is a film that showcases popular 80’s music such as Falco’s “Amadeus”, David Bowie’s “Modern Love”, The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, The Outfield’s “Your Love”, INXS’s “Don’t Change”, Expose’s “Point of No Return”, and many more. So, it was great to see how music was utilized in the film, especially Falco’s “Amadeus” (since most of us who grew up at that time know how this song was overplayed).
As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned, the Blu-ray comes with a digital copy of the film and the special features (which are unrated) are quite entertaining. From “Frigo’s Taps” and learning about various ways on how to hit someone in the nads was definitely unexpected. Also, to see a featurette based on the character of Lisa P and showcasing her 80’s fashion style was quite interesting.
Overall, I enjoyed “Adventureland” for being an enjoyable romantic comedy. A pretty entertaining storyline, intriguing and genuine characters and fabulous music made this film so enjoyable!
For those looking for a fun, highly entertaining, young adult romantic comedy especially a film that showcases music from the 80’s, definitely give “Adventureland” a try.
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