Monday, 22 February 2010
"Don't ever eat the corn dogs!"
The husband and wife management team, Bobby and Paulette, of the Adventureland amusement park inspect the latest consignment of corn dogs. After deciding that they can risk exposing the public to the decidedly off smelling dogs, Bobby calls to one of his employees and instructs him to "Fire em up!"
Welcome to Adventureland. James Brennan has recently graduated from college with a degree in comparative literature, and finds to his dismay that his planned bohemian wanderings across Europe have to be put on the back burner when his parents drop the bombshell, they've run into financial difficulty and can't give him the money. He quickly learns that a degree in comparative literature just ain't cutting it when it comes to Summer jobs. After an exhausted search he finally manages to get a job down at the local amusement park. And so his journey of self discovery begins.
'Life lessons at the Carny'.
Cue a cast of coming of age teenagers working dead end carny jobs. James finds a soul mate in Joel, a lank haired, bespectacled, pipe smoking college graduate with a degree in Russian literature, who views his life through a dark cloud of sarcasm. The apple of James' eye, the summer romance that he'll remember for the rest of his life is Em, played by Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame.
'Just blowin' bubbles. Lisa P'.
However, despite the Favourable reviews for Kristen's part in this film I personally find her hard to get on with, a bit too much biting of the bottom lip, folding of arms, and all that nervous fiddling with her hair drove me to distraction. According to the trivia she was clocked touching her hair 55 times from start of movie to finish.
Stealing the show though was the enigmatic femme fatale, gum chewing, bubble blowing, danceaholic, virgin for life Lisa P. Her and her friend/dance partner operate the park's rides in between bouts of seductive self absorbed dance routines. Lisa P. at one point confides in James that her perfect Summer consists of hanging out by the swimming pool by day and dancing the night away. For those of you out there who know your comics, Lisa P's character reminded me of the 'phonomancer', dance floor starlet with the infinite depths of the cosmos reflected in her eyes, Penny B, from the British indie comic Phonogram: The Singles Club.
Lisa P and her sidekick also reminded me of a couple of girls from my secondary school days, Sharon and Tracy. Very pretty, also bubblegum chewing, self obsessed and well aware of their effect on the boys at school. They had a habit of sunbathing behind the chemistry labs at lunchtime, which may have accounted for the amount of boys volunteering to nurse their science experiments through the lunch break.
Director, Greg Mottola , who was responsible for the comedy film Superbad, did a good job here keeping the movie's teen comedy aspect from sinking the ship into familiar lost the plot territory, the wire walking wavered at times, but in the end the mixture of love story, humour, nostalgic love letter to the 1980s, a sharp script and a great soundtrack should ensure that this film enjoys future cult status.
Talking of the soundtrack, one track in particular gets played over and over again on Adventureland's tannoy system was Falco's 'Rock Me Amadeus'. The Austrian band had a number 1 hit with this track in the UK in 1986, the film is set in 1987. My memory is pretty poor but I do remember buying this as a 12 inch single, which I still have. After buying it I went back to a mates house where we threw the sash window wide open, put the needle on the record, chilled out on the flat roof and periodically nipped back in to play it again and again. At one point in the film James jokingly says that he will stab himself in the ear if he hears it one more time!
On a final note there are a fair few memorable quotes from the film, but one of my favourites is when a girl says to Joel - What are you majoring in?, to which Joel replies "Russian literature and Slavic languages." "Oh wow", she responds, "that's pretty interesting. What career track is that?", Joel dryly responds - " Cabby, hot dog vendor, marijuana delivery guy. The world is my oyster."
'Satellite of Love'