H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Adventureland [Blu-ray]


(Greg Mottola, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

Video: MiraMax



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:46:54.866

Disc Size: 38,355,592,273 bytes

Feature Size: 31,840,014,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.36 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: August 25th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3599 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3599 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

Dolby Digital Audio Thai 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps / Dolby Surround
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English, English SDH, Chinese (Simplified and traditional), French, Spanish, Portuguese,  Malay, Korean, Thai, none



• Commentary by Writer/director Greg Mottola and actor Jesse Eisenberg

Just My Life: The Making of Adventureland (16:31 in SD)

Welcome to Adventureland (5:12 HD)

• Frigo's Ball Taps (3-minutes HD)

• Deleted Scenes (3-minutes HD)

• Lisa P's Guide to Style (2-minutes HD)

Song Selector

Digital Copy





Description: Welcome to Adventureland, where the worst job imaginable is about to inadvertently turn into the summer that changes everything. Adventureland, a self-professedly "funtastic" Pennsylvania amusement park, appears to be the bane of recent college graduate's James Brennan's existence. He previously had big plans to spend the summer on a life-altering trek through Europe that would initiate him into real adult life. But when his family suffers an economic downturn in the middle of the Reagan 80s, James' only summer trip is straight to a minimum wage job manning a game booth so existentially bankrupt, no one is even allowed to win the giant stuffed panda. Yet, Adventureland isn't quite what it seems on the surface. For behind the cloying cotton candy aroma, the grating disco songs and the near pathological customers, there's a whole other world of misfit friends, hidden dreams and most incredibly, after-work encounters with the alluringly sharp-tongued arcade girl, Em Lewin. And when James discovers the hard-won courage to go to battle for Em, the result is a savagely funny yet sweetly heart-felt and unexpected encounter with "real adult life".



The Film:

More than 30 years ago, the template established by Animal House for college age comedies became a recognized standard. However, although the Animal House approach is a good way to get cheap laughs, it falls apart when anything more substantive is desired. It's increasingly rare for a filmmaker to trust an audience enough to build this sort of comedy around intelligent, believable characters in which the humor evolves organically out of the story and the relationships. Too often, artificial set pieces are shoehorned into an otherwise low-key narrative for the sole purpose of amping up the laugh quotient. Greg Mottola, whose Superbad exhibited some of this behavior (particularly in the scenes with "McLovin'" and the two cops) has taken a leap of faith with Adventureland. The result is a sharp, insightful, charming motion picture.

If The Wonder Years had followed Kevin and his friends into their early 20s, the end product might have occupied similar terrain as Adventureland. If John Hughes had made movies about characters five years older than his usual crowd, those pictures might have been flavored like Adventureland. Commercials for the film are playing up the "funny bone" aspect, but the laughs are secondary to the heart. This isn't Judd Apatow territory. Although the dialogue doesn't shrink from sex and other matters that obsess 22-year old men and women, it's not wall-to-wall crudeness and profanity. Sitting through this movie and recognizing the fragile balance between humor and honesty, I waited with trepidation for the first false note to be struck - the misplayed chord that would shatter the melody. It never happened. Okay, so the bozo who repeatedly punches his best friend in the groin is annoying, but even he isn't overdone. Every other character is treated with respect. Mottola rejects familiar clichés in favor of allowing the individuals populating his picture to live and breathe. And the uncanny insight with which he depicts second-rate amusement parks from the late 1980s speaks of first-hand experience.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at ReelViews located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Being a period piece it's not always easy to identify what would be an intentional appearance to bolster the desired nostalgia but as the film itself takes up over 31 Gig, on the dual-layered disc of 38 Gig, with a strong bitrate - I believe the limitations in the transfer are an attempt to achieve the desired 80's look. Essentially this 1080P Blu-ray seems to export a strong replication of the theatrical appearance of Adventureland. Both grain and noise are visible. Colors are bright never crossing the border to unrealistic exuberant brilliance. Contrast may be the weaker sister of the visuals here and it may reflect some of the film's persistent shaded outdoor sequences. The darker scenes bring out the noise to a higher level than some may appreciate.  While I wouldn't say this ever looks glossy with pristine detail - it does a solid and, most probably, accurate facsimile in representing the filmmakers intentions.

















Audio :

The audio is a strong DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy 3599 kbps. The film, however, doesn't really warrant the capabilities of the track supporting limited aggression and effect noises. Separation exists subtly in some of the Amusement Park crowds, ride screams and Barker dialogue. Many will appreciate the film's crisp music scores even with snippets of Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Falco (with the persistent "Rock Me Amadeus"), The Cure, Lou Reed and The Rolling Stones. Surprising with the multitude of subtitle options and included foreign language DUBs my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.




Extras :

The Mottola / Eisenberg commentary is a decent one with some humor and camaraderie. Anecdotes of production are discussed in a relaxed atmosphere. We also get the featurette Just My Life: The Making of Adventureland running about 16 minutes. This is, more or less, standard fare with behind-the-scenes clips supporting the soundbytes. One of the best supplements is Welcome to Adventureland where you are given four short 'video' simulation Training Courses for Employees and Promos. It's well-done and amusing and it would have been appreciated if there could have been more. There are some even shorter pieces in HD including deleted scenes. You may access the songs in Adventureland with a chapterized Song Selector feature. You get a Digital Copy for use in your portable devices and this is suitable addition considering the film and it's potential audience.



Probably not a film for everyone but for the right audience this is nostalgic, humorous and warm. I can't see how the Blu-ray could give you a better, or rather more faithful, presentation. The visual characteristics molding itself to the timeframe are done with a sensible and deft touch. It looks and sounds, probably as good as it ever will and we give our recommendation - especially for those who can relate to growing up and establishing some maturity in the 80's. 

Gary Tooze

August 22nd, 2009





About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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