***½/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras B
starring Jake Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Margarita Levieva
written and directed by Greg Mottola
starring Eric McCormack, Jenni Baird, Robert Patrick, Dan Lauria
screenplay by Steven P. Fisher
directed by R. W. Goodwin
by Ian Pugh In everyone's life there's a summer of '42, but of course it was never as wonderful as you remember. Although Greg Mottola's Adventureland is set in 1987, that's almost incidental--it really takes place in that hazy cloud known as "the past," full of fly-by-night jobs rife with fraud and deceit, fairweather friends who sock you in the crotch, and, of course, the music that brings to mind painful experiences perhaps best left forgotten. (Funny to think that this might be the ideological inverse of another great 2009 film about memory, The Uninvited: unhealthily obsessive instead of unhealthily in denial.) The key to understanding the film, I think, lies in Falco's New Wave anthem "Rock Me Amadeus," here serving as an inescapable nightmare at the titular amusement park, where it's pumped through the sound system ad nauseam ("Can you give me an ice pick that I can just jam into my ears?"). But then the romantic confusion driving the plot unravels in a series of betrayals, and that same song becomes a damning elegy. Seems strange that the director of Superbad, an instant classic of maturity-through-childishness and nostalgia-without-precedent, should deliver something so angry and contradictory for a follow-up. Perhaps it is strange--but Adventureland is also a more honest, more personal, and, most importantly, more mature film than Superbad.