I liked it much better than I thought I would. The director, Greg Mottola, worked at an amusement park on Long Island in his youth, and he really captured the tedium and soul-sucking nature of the job. The kids with their life ahead of them, trying to figure out their place, trying to live up to their parent's expectations, or free themselves from their parents' mistakes. Wondering if they'll ever get out of Pittsburgh. Get to New York. Get the girl. Figure out who they are, who they want to be. Figure out that the strangely clean and well groomed maintenance guy is full of crap- he never jammed with Lou Reed and he's never going to leave his wife, in fact he'll never leave Adventureland, because that is where he's the king.
It's not a new story Mottola's telling, but he tells it well. And he fills it with great little touches- like the flirty hot girl isn't called Lisa- she's Lisa P. Because in a place like Adventureland, there's always going to be people with the same first name. Or when James, the protagonist, bursts into the manager's trailer trying to escape an angry patron, and without speaking, or even looking up, Kristen Wiig's character throws Bill Hader a baseball bat and he runs out to confront the problem. It's a dance they've done before.
Mottola did a Q & A after the screening and talked about how he had to fight to keep it a period piece, which was one of my favorite aspects of it, since it really put it in an almost parallel timeline with my Park experience. And Adventureland is the type of park that doesn't exist anymore. Besides, setting the film in the '80s allowed them to start off the film with the Replacements' Bastards of Young. In fact, the soundtrack (and Yo La Tengo's score) was dead on throughout.
Except for the roadhouse jukebox that featured the Velvet Underground. Emotionally, it worked, but VU in a bar like that? Never. The coolest thing you'd get is Neil Young.
Adventureland opens Friday. Hopefully, it will screen at the drive in.