Adventureland – A Movie Review

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Sep 102009

adventureland_smallposter2Welcome to Adventureland, where the worst job imaginable is about to inadvertently turn into the summer that changes everything. Adventureland, a self-professedly “funtastic” Pennsylvania amusement park, appears to be the bane of recent college graduate’s James Brennan’s existence. He previously had big plans to spend the summer on a life-altering trek through Europe that would initiate him into real adult life. But when his family suffers an economic downturn in the middle of the Reagan 80s, James’ only summer trip is straight to a minimum wage job manning a game booth so existentially bankrupt, no one is even allowed to win the giant stuffed panda. Yet, Adventureland isn’t quite what it seems on the surface. For behind the cloying cotton candy aroma, the grating disco songs and the near pathological customers, there’s a whole other world of misfit friends, hidden dreams and most incredibly, after-work encounters with the alluringly sharp-tongued arcade girl, Em Lewin. And when James discovers the hard-won courage to go to battle for Em, the result is a savagely funny yet sweetly heart-felt and unexpected encounter with “real adult life.”

Genres: Comedy and Drama; Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.; Release Date: April 3rd, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for language, drug use and sexual references.

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig

Directed by: Greg Mottola

We rented this movie and watched it this past weekend. I think the problem I had was  expecting the “as advertised” comedy. This film is not a comedy. I think it has two jokes, and I don’t mean it has only two “funny” jokes, I mean it has only two jokes. The studio is pushing this film as the next “Superbad”, just because the director of that film directed this film. The truth is, this is far different from “Superbad”, besides a few gross out gags. Where that film prided itself on its crudeness and vulgarity, this film prides itself on heart and pure emotion.

“Adventureland” has the feel of teen movies both from the 80’s and 90’s (more the 80’s though). You have a sensitive character who is still trying to figure out who he is, and by a sequence of events, falls in love and more importantly, finds his true self. What makes the movie even more appealing is that it not only doesn’t treat its characters as generic stereotypes, but as humans, which makes them more appealing to the audience.

Our main character here is James (played by Jessie Eisenberg) who has just graduated college and is looking forward to his trip to Europe with his fellow pal. Things unfortunately go south with his finances, which forces him to get a job at the local amusement park. There he meets some interesting people: the two owners (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), nerdy Joel (the likable Martin Starr) and the beautiful “Em” (Kristen Stewert).

James and Em quickly fall for each other, but there is one small problem, she is in a very dysfunctional relationship with Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who plays the married park maintenance guy. Reynolds, who usually adds the goofy humor to every film he is in, holds back to really give the character a deepness that I was surprised he pulled off.

What makes this film work though is that director Greg Mottola doesn’t overdo any aspect of the movie. The comedy, drama, and situations are all well balanced, which makes the film feel real. As I stated before, Reynolds is grounded, as is the rest of the cast with their performances. Stewert gives Em vulnerability, but makes her lovable at the same time. These two give perfect performances because neither of them have all the answers and it is about the deep connection they share, not just about the sex.

So, overall the movie was good, but it takes time to get into it, because you are expecting one thing, but find something completely different.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.50 out of 10)

Dala Turns Three

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Jun 232009

We had a big birthday party here Sunday afternoon as Dala, Lay’s niece turns three years old. She loves to swim and always throws a fit when it’s time to go home. She learned to jump off the side of the pool, and doggy paddle around with her little tube.

Click the photo to see the set.

No More Pick Up Wiffle Ball in Greenwich, CT

 Culture, Featured, Society  Comments Off on No More Pick Up Wiffle Ball in Greenwich, CT
Jul 102008

Just up the road from Greenwich is Fairfield where Wiffle Ball was invented. Across many summers, kids found vacant lots, and turned them into baseball diamonds and whiled away the days. But apparently in Greenwich, Liz Pate, who’s building a new house, wants peace and quiet when she gets home at 6pm. So, after some kids in Greenwich cleared a vacant and overgrown city lot to play a little wiffle ball, here came Liz and a bunch of adults to spoil the fun.

According to a report in the NY Times 16 year old Vincent Provenzano and 17 year old Justin Currytto wanted a place to play some wiffle ball, so when they saw the overgrown lot, they decided if they built it, they would come…

But, alas, they had no idea just who would come…youthful Wiffle ball players, yes, but also angry neighbors and their lawyer, the police, the town nuisance officer and tree warden and other officials in all shapes and sizes. It turns out that one kid’s field of dreams is an adult’s dangerous nuisance, liability nightmare, inappropriate usurpation of green space, unpermitted special use or drag on property values, and their Wiffle-ball Fenway has become the talk of Greenwich and a suburban Rorschach test about youthful summers past and present.

Liz is building her house next to the field, so she doesn’t even live there yet…and never mind the noise and mess made for the other neighbors as her house is being built, but I’m sure she thinks that is just fine. According to Liz, “I’m all for Wiffle ball and apple pie and baseball and the American flag, but there are plenty of fields in town they can use instead of building something in people’s backyard. If I come home at 6 at night after working all day, I want peace and quiet. I can’t have that. I have dozens of people behind my house playing Wiffle ball. If their parents think this is so great, let them play at their house.

Where I live in Tampa, I’m in close proximity to the YMCA and a city sports complex. We have people parking on my street in front of my house when there’s a lot going on at the Y and the ball fields, and at night I can hear the PA system and the cheering coming from the field. So the “plenty of other fields” in Greenwich are in someone’s backyard. Liz, if you want peace and quiet you don’t live in town…you buy a large farm out in the country and move out to where you have no neighbors. That’s the way the world works.

And it seems the town is all worried about liability issues, but that may have some foundation. Apparently a doctor was awarded $6.3 million a few years back when he broke his leg in two places while sledding with his 4-year-old son. Well, shame the damned idiots on the jury or the judge who made a stupid award like that. Hey dumb-assed doctor…guess what…scooting down a hill on a board with some metal runners under it ain’t the safest thing you can do. You might get hurt…oh, but someone probably didn’t post that sign, so the Doctor’s stupidity has a value of $6.3m. I hope it was enough for him to retire. If he’s that stupid, I hope he’s no longer practicing medicine.

So, thank the lawyers for taking away a summer of creative loafing and fun for kids, and forcing them inside to sit alone and play “Grand Theft Auto.” Then we’ll all cry later on because the next generation doesn’t know how to socialize.

I mean really, what were these kids thinking. This has to be organized. There has to be a team of adults there fighting and sqabbling and setting up the leagues, and picking the players. How do they think this is helping their SAT Scores? It’s not part of the summer program.

We have clearly completely lost our collective fucking minds. Liz, I’m sure people all over America would just love to have you as a neighbor.