That same kind of frustration is likely to occur in theaters across America this weekend as teens and young adults rush to see the new comedy Adventureland, a movie that's been misleadingly marketed (for about 4 months now) as a kind of Superbad 2. And not for odd reason. Greg Mottola is the director of that 2007 male-centric teen sex neurosis comedy (and yes, very possibly misogynistic comedy... I would accept that). The first 30 minutes of Superbad were fueled by a more-accurate-than-critics-gave-it-credit-for foul stream of obnoxiousness dialogue that nailed the sex-obsessed mind of a 17 year-old. Internal porn site deliberation and strapping down your boner with the elastic band in your underwear were funny because they happen.
The use of the Violent Femme's "Blister in the Sun" in Adventureland's trailer is equally misleading with its bouncing carefree sexual glee-lyrics about masturbation. Adventureland's teens are of a mind set already past the discovery of that curious perversion. Instead, Mottola's film truly hangs on the songs of The Replacements, Big Star, and The Velvet Underground. And not just "songs" by those bands, but the top-shelf lovesick trophies that those groups have cemented their legacies on: "Unsatisfied", "I'm In Love With a Girl", "Here She Comes Now". And while it's a little more than ridiculous to see Jesse Eisenberg sipping whiskey at a bar after punching in "Pale Blue Eyes" on the jukebox, you'll forgive the illogic of it because its drama is appropriate.
A movie like Adventureland is labeled a comedy simply because no other genre label fits it. Sure, there are plenty of laughs, but this is a comedy like Almost Famous is a comedy. In fact, Adventureland could be called the anti-Superbad. Seth and Evan wanted to become "Iron Chefs at pounding vag" while James (Eisenberg) passes up sex because of a personal dilemma brought on by a Shakespeare sonnet. Working with his own script this time, Mottola carefully observes the star-crossed relationship at an age when our brains aren't sophisticated enough to deal with it. It's a matter of the mind questioning the heart when mind is still pretty stupid. This is what Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist should have been.