Adventureland
R
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -4

Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr. Comedy/drama. Directed by Greg Mottola.

FILM SYNOPSIS: When an uptight recent college graduate realizes he cannot afford his European dream vacation, he is forced to take a minimum-wage job at a local amusement park.

PREVIEW REVIEW: A cross between a bawdy teen comedy and a thoughtful coming-of-age tale, Adventureland has some positives – learning to forgive, discovering true love, and a few nice, if somewhat transparent performances. But beware the negatives. Along with the usual R-rated fare associated with most other recent coming-of-age dramedies, life lessons are being tossed out in a superficial, secular manner. When the lead character, stoned on pot along with his date, is asked, “Do you believe in God?” he responds, “I believe in love.” That’s about as far as the film delves into spiritual matters.

I can’t remember a film that so gleefully passed the pot and the highballs around, ostensibly to make a point that escape through narcotics isn’t the answer. Ostensibly, booze is used to highlight the lead’s parents’ hypocrisy and weakness. But the young folk in this film also anesthetize themselves with the frequency of Hemingway’s Lost Generation, as if the use of narcotics is a harmless right of passage.

Of course, there’s the rest of the R-content to be considered, as well. I guess the f-word is such a thread in today’s conversational fabric that it has lost any offensiveness to the general public, for this obscenity is about the only bomb in the writer/actor’s arsenal used to relieve frustration. The s-word is also used with frequency. And Jesus’ name is all that can be conjured up to relay surprise.

The film attempts to convey the frustrations of youth. Indeed, Ms. Stewart has become the poster child for smoldering anguish. But nothing new is being said or characterized. We just get to see another movie about teenagers with problems, dosed with copious amounts of sophomoric behavior and vulgarity.

I keep wondering why members of the movie industry, and the society in general, do their best to dress slovenly, act harshly and revel in their limited vocabulary skills. Why are so many today comfortable with ugliness of dress, mind and tongue? Though I hesitated bringing this subject up, as it makes me sound like an old so-and-so, movies keep reminding me that a classy approach to life is nearly extinct. Our movies, once proliferated by the likes of William Powell, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Myrna Loy, have forever been replaced by film stars who, though in the communication field, speak as if educated by longshoremen. (Sorry, longshoremen, that statement may be doing you a disservice.)

DVD Alternatives: Glory Road. In 1966 Don “the Bear” Haskins, coach of the little known Texas Western basketball team, caused an uproar by starting five black players in the NCAA championships. This is their story. Devoid of crudity or exploitive sexuality, the film centers on its messages – how to overcome bigotry and how to play the game of life.

The Gospel. A semi-autobiographical film about the transformative power of faith and forgiveness, The Gospel is a contemporary drama packed with the soaring, soulful sounds of gospel music. Set in the impassioned world of the African-American church, The Gospel tells the story of David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), a dynamic young R&B star torn between his successful new life and the one he used to know.

Groundhog Day. Bill Murray learns how to treat others after being caught in a surreal world where he wakes up each morning to re-live the same day.

Jacob Have I Loved. Bridget Fonda, Jenny Robertson. A shy, insecure teenager comes to grips with the resentment she feels for her twin sister. Sensitive story dealing with sibling rivalry.

Saint Maybe. Blythe Danner, Edward Herrmann, Melina Kanakaredes, Thomas McCarthy, Jeffrey Nordling, Mary-Louise Parker. Hallmark. When a ne’er-do-well finds himself the cause of his brother’s death, he seeks a reason for his life. He stumbles upon a church gathering and quickly turns his life around, living for others. This affecting Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of a family dealing with the loss of a loved one is a wonderful film suitable for the Christmas holidays. There are so many powerful messages and life lessons, none of which over-powers the entertaining drama. What a delight to find a film where scripture is quoted, the Christian lifestyle is not mocked, prayers are spoken and the gospel message is put into practice. Due to the adult subject matter and two deaths, the material may not be suitable for little ones, but older children and their parents will be nurtured as they see a family come together after tragic circumstances. I really liked this movie. But beware: have a Kleenex on hand. It will move you.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Miramax

Summary
Crude Language: Crude situations and dialogue throughout.
Obscene Language: Around 90 obscenities, mostly the f-word.
Profanity: One use of God’s name followed by a curse, and five irreverent uses of Christ’s name, including once with the f-bomb used as a middle name for our Savior.
Violence: A car accident after the lead gets drunk and further drinks while driving; the lead’s friend every so often hits him in the groin; a bad-behaving park visitor gets violent and is himself punched.
Sexual Intercourse: Two sexual situations, neither is graphic.
Nudity: We see the leads remove their clothing as they are about to have sex, but the camera does not reveal private parts.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: A lot of drug and alcohol use, without any indication by film’s end that the leads will stop using.
Other: There is always a scene in youth-orientated movies where someone vomits after getting drunk. Here it happens three times. And what is that stuff actors are putting in their mouths to simulate puke? It seems to get more realistic with every movie.
Running Time: 106 minutes
Intended Audience: Underage Market

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