Monday, 17 February 2014

"Adventureland". A Review Of The 2009 Film On BLU RAY.


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"…Summer In Pittsburgh! That’s Harsh!"

It’s Ronald Reagan’s 1987 and curly-haired college dweeb James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is dumped by his girlfriend Arlene in Scene 1. Then his promised European Road Trip is kyboshed in Scene 2 by his downsizing parents who can’t afford new drapes let alone a graduation present. Then things get really nasty for our sensitive Renaissance student when he’s sentenced to work at the notorious cesspool that is the “Adventureland” Amusement Park in Pittsburgh (title above).

But during a brutally honest induction course from the bug-eyed Joel (great work from Martin Starr) James notices something well worth the pain of puking children and a childhood pest called Frigo who can’t seem to resist jokily kicking him in the privates at every opportunity. The eye-opener James clocks is the seemingly ordinary yet ethereally beautiful Em (Kristen Stewart) who is all Lou Reed and David Bowie teeshirts and smoky eyes and magical long hair. The kind of girl you want to make mix tapes for and even consider joining a gym. From the moment he meets the svelte Em poor James is a goner – hopelessly falling for the emotionally conflicted young woman no matter what extra-curricular crap she pulls on him.

Em’s biological mom has passed two years prior via a long and horrible battle with cancer and she’s left living with a Stepmom she despises (and vice versa) and a father who seems unable to fathom his daughter. Em is therefore feckless in her relationships and reluctant to commit to anything other than drinking and toking and hanging out after work – sappily accepting the occasional rumble in the kitchen with Mike the Rock 'n' Roll star of the Park (a cool and suave Ryan Reynolds). But James the nice guy persists despite customers who try to rob the Giant Pandas and the attention of the playground’s curvaceous babe Lisa P (the deeply sexy Margarita Levieva). Slowly but surely Em begins to see the merits of a nice guy who’s willing to take a few punches for her and equally not allow her to anyone’s punching bag. "You may be the cutest and coolest guy I've ever dated…" she finally admits in a clincher behind the arcades - making James want to go all Johnny Weissmuller and yodel from the trees.

The funniest parts go to Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the odd couple Bobby and Paulette who run the rip-off-for-all-the-family rides and games with a baseball bat and motivational speeches about horse races. Also like Cameron Crowe's wonderful "Elizabethtown" - "Adventureland" has a gargantuan soundtrack – featuring a cool tune from all periods in almost every scene. Lou Reed, The Cure, Big Star, The Replacements, The Rolling Stones, Nick Lowe and Crowded House – to name but a few - the list of appropriate choices is legion and they’re used well (as James watches Em drive – you can see him falling in love as Lou Reed’s lyrics echo his aching for her).

The Blu Ray pictured is defaulted to 16 x9/1.85:1 so its fills the entire screen but because a large amount of the scenes take place at night and in people’s homes – those shots can have some grain and fuzziness. But once outside during the day – and even on some of the indoor restaurant and bar shots - the picture quality is glorious. Audio is DTS 5.1 HD English, DTS 5.1 Italian and Spanish, and Dolby 2.0 Described English. Subtitles come in English, English For The Hearing impaired, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Hindi.

Extras exclusive to BLU RAY are:
1. Frigo’s Tips – A Satiric "How To On Inflicting Unexpected Pain"
2.  Lisa P’s Guide To Style
3. Welcome To Adventureland – Adventureland Commercials, Orientation Training Video and Drug Policy
Other Extras:
1. Deleted Scenes
2. Just My Life: The Making Of Adventureland
3. Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Greg Mottola and Actor Jesse Eisenberg 

"Most people have low standards – I guess I'm different…" James explains to his mates as to why he’s holding out on his virginity (only wanting to lose it to someone special). You can’t help but feel that something special is going on in Greg Mottola’s lovely and funny "Adventureland" (he also Directed the equally witty and touching "Superbad", "Paul" and some episodes of "The Newsroom" Season 1).

Take a ride on this cool rollercoaster. You’ll feel like a kid on the dodgems again - laughing and wanting to go back for more…

 


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