Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Adventureland

29 January 2012 by Nicholas in Films

Adventureland is a coming of age drama, set in the titular (fictional?) theme park in 1980s Pittsburgh in the USA,  starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart with support from some faces that sort of recognise but can’t put names to. And Ryan Reynold’s huge forehead.

I am not sure if it is meant to count as comedic, there are some mildly amusing elements but they mainly stem from the characters and their character traits. I am not sure if it is actually reflective of real people or the writer bringing in madcap and eccentric traits to people in order to make the story more interesting. There are a few places where I think I can see the writer has started with something relatively realistic and imposed structure and wish fulfilment on it to make it more interesting.

It’s not a bad film, but it wasn’t particularly of interest to me. Partially it is because I can never take Ryan Reynolds particularly seriously. As much as people may mock someone like Keanu Reeves, I feel Ryan Reynolds is eminently more mockable. Regardless of the film, he seems to play the same character. And his acting range doesn’t seem particularly wide. I am always aware I am watching Ryan Reynolds. the other problem, alluded to in my opening paragraph, is that I don’t actually see that he particularly counts as attractive.

Jesse Eisenberg seems to specialise in portraying socially awkward and intelligent characters. The only time I haven’t seen him do it is in 30 minutes or less, which he still manages to portray neuroses in. However, he has a range and most of his characters do seem to have arcs and grow as people. Possibly because he tends to play the lead, but also because he has the dramatic ability to carry this off.

Kristen Stewart plays a character that is hard to fathom, I am sure this is meant to be the basis of her attraction but does seem to mean some of her actions drive the plot rather than seeming to stem organically from her motivations and personality.

Which brings me back to my main problem with the film: the writing seems haphazard and oddly unrealistic. The attractive girl who controls a ride seems to be an element of wish fulfilment in her unlikely interest in the nerdy main character. Most of the relationships strike me as a little odd and fake. They don’t ring true and seem oddly contrived. And, when a drama hinges on personalities and relationships to drive it rather than events, you have to believe in the people and their actions.