TV Party is a new Friday feature in which Film Editors Dominick Mayer and Justin Gerber alongside Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman suggest one movie apiece to enjoy over the weekend. Joining them each week will be two rotating film staff writers to help round out the selections. Seek out any of the films via Netflix, Amazon, Redbox, Hulu, OnDemand, or abandoned Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores — however you crazy kids watch movies these days! Enjoy ’em for the first time, a second, or maybe a redemptive third.
Even five years after its release, it’s still hard to get people to watch Adventureland sometimes. Everybody got all excited about Greg Mottola’s follow-up to the generational classic Superbad, and many were disappointed, leading to it receiving the seriously undeserved status of “well, it’s okay I guess, but not as funny as Superbad.” But for all the discussion at the time of that film’s release about its place in the John Hughes tradition, Adventureland feels ripped straight from Hughes’ prime filmmaking years, a chronicle of youth that’s a little more addled and a little angrier than they used to come, but still affecting as hell. And seriously, it has one of the best soundtracks in recent film history.
The story of James (Jesse Eisenberg) and his shitty summer theme park job after finishing college in 1987, the film unfolds in the listless rhythm of bored young adult summers, when the simple listlessness of high school is gone and the realities of the “rest of your life,” however we want to parse meaning from that, have yet to set in. As James falls in love (more than once), learns a thing or two about deceptive friends, and drinks and smokes his way through a hazy summer constantly set to the tune of “Rock Me Amadeus”, Adventureland emerges not as a bawdy laugh riot, but a gently funny portrait of smart people in the middle of one of the most transitional periods they’ll ever live through. –Dominick Mayer