I’ve seen Adventureland twice.
I saw it the first time with an old friend, a new friend, and two pre-friends at a beautiful movie theater that serves milk shakes, burgers, and nachos, which is one version of heavenly bliss. Our shared verdict was positive, though the movie is definitely a little shambolic. I always root for Ryan Reynolds and Martin Starr, and both were quite good. Actually, Starr was great, though his character didn’t have much of an arc. As for Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, I’m struck by their limited range. In the case of Eisenberg, this inclines me to not be really excited about him as an actor. In the case of Stewart, I’m sorry to say, my extreme affection for the single character she plays in every movie clouds my judgment. In fairness, she doesn’t play a single character. Rather, she draws on the same twitchy tics and wan tomboyish charm. My hope is that she’ll break the pattern at some point. But even if she doesn’t, I’ll likely remain a believer because I have no integrity. That’s part of why I saw Adventureland a second time a couple of weeks ago, and why I’ve seen pretty much all of her movies, including Zathura and a horror movie I’d like to forget.
I suppose there’s more to say about Adventureland, and about nostalgia for the late Reagan-era, etc., but this post is prompted by the fact that the movie opens with one of my favorite songs of all time, “Bastards of Young” by The Replacements, which has a number of semi-inscrutable lyrics — references to income tax deductions, sharecropping, income and skill ladders, and intergenerational conflict. This live performance is from 1986, which is right around the time Adventureland takes place. It’s hard to explain how exciting it was to hear the song, as my exposure to The Replacements happened in isolation. It could be that “Bastards” was a generational anthem. They were the kind of band that my sisters would listen to, but I don’t recall them playing a lot of Replacements songs when I was growing up. I believe I first started listening during the Napster era, an anarchic moment of musical experimentation. In a primitive version of Last.fm’s sophisticated 2.0 concept, one would download songs from another person’s computer that you knew and liked, and then you’d scour their files for other things on the theory that you have similar tastes. In my defense, I was pretty rigorous about using Napster for sampling purposes and to get my hands on rare B-sides, mixtape tracks, Japanese exclusives, and other recordings I couldn’t plausibly find or buy. I’d like to thank this mysterious person with the excellent library. Then again, why defend? I’m a firm supporter of the Piratpartiet!
Another favorite Replacements song is “Kiss Me On the Bus,” one of the better love songs about mass transit.
If you knew how I felt now
You wouldn’t act so adult now
Hurry, hurry, here comes my stop