Throwing back to hairspray and classic rock in “Adventureland”

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Throwing back to hairspray and classic rock in “Adventureland”

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Hey, do you like the ’80s? Teenage angst? Kristen Stewart trying her damnedest to make a normal human expression?

Well then, “Adventureland,” featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, is the movie for you.

Even though this movie came out only a few years ago, it has that definite feel of being made for people who would like to remember the ’80s fondly, even though they were actually born in 1988. It gives off a very nostalgic vibe, especially when “Rock me Amadeus” is the theme song of their theme park.

In what must be the universe playing a cruel, cruel joke on me, the basic plot is that Eisenberg’s character, James, is a recent college graduate, looking to go to grad school and start the next grand phase. I swear, it’s like looking into a mirror, only the mirror is clouded with hairspray.

So, since he needs a job, he starts working the summer away at the local amusement park, where he meets Stewart’s Emily. And I have to say, weird and sometimes wooden acting aside, I don’t entirely mind Stewart in this movie.

One of the things that I find funniest about this movie is the star-studded cast, almost as if the director realized he couldn’t bank on nostalgia selling tickets. So he went with a good portion of the SNL cast, mixed in some Judd Apatow characters, and then just threw Ryan Reynolds in there for good measure.

The list of stars, in addition to Eisenberg and Stewart, includes Bill Hader (“Hot Rod”), Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”), Martin Starr (“Knocked Up”), Matt Bush (“Glory Daze”), Margarita Levieva (“The Blacklist”) and assorted others.

It’s kinda weird to notice, but if you’ve ever seen Hader and Wiig in almost any of their other comedy works, then you’ve almost certainly seen this movie already. That’s not to say that they aren’t funny, but it’s a bit like watching my dog trip on his own ears; after a certain point it’s just more of the same, and a little sad.

The thing that surprised me most about this movie was that Stewart can actually make facial expressions, and not merely look like she’s had a bad bout of constipation. If the “Twilight” franchise had starred this Stewart, as opposed to the performance that they did get, maybe it wouldn’t make me wish for the sweet release of death.

But no, Stewart was charming, smiley and endearing, and I thought she made the perfect foil for the twitchy, fast-talking character that Eisenberg feels compelled to play in every single one of his movies.

That was one of the bigger reasons “Batman V. Superman” was so excruciating to watch. (Well, that and the fact that director Zach Snyder tried waaaay too hard to make it gritty. But I digress.)

All of the other little surprises throughout this movie were things like how the cast really seemed to work well together. Or how, despite the fact that this movie seems like the retro attempt of remaking a classier “American Pie,” it still managed to seem really cheesy in places.

Like, proper cheese. Really cringe-filled moments, where all you can do is twist your face up in anguish and wait for Stewart to make her next scheduled facial expression. Maybe the ’80s were just filled with cringey moments, and I’m just too young to properly appreciate them.

To go with the period theme, all of the movie’s music was from that era. But there are only so many times you can hear “Rock Me Amadeus” before you get haunted by the spirit of Falco in your sleep.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie more than most I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s got a decent plot, with decent pacing and lead actors, and is enough of a period piece that I’m almost tempted to show it to my parents to make them feel old.

For the foreseeable future, though, I’ll just be stuck with the best music the era of hairspray and shoulder pads has to offer rattling around in my head.
Amadeus, Amadeus indeed.

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