I got to see this film at a sneak preview. I got free tickets at an 80's club I frequent. I only had a mild interest in seeing this film when I saw the trailers. In other words, this one was going to be one to wait for on dvd. Free is free, and I went with a tribe of folks on a Wednesday night.
To my surprise, this was a really sweet, funny, well-acted, and truly great film. Yes, this is a film, not some flash-in-the-pan, cash in on the youth market, gross out comedy. Sure, it has elements of that too, but they're more subdued and the humor is less broad and more sublte. It's basically about characters you already know or have met in your life. It takes place in the 80's and it's basica plot involves the horror any 20-something would face during a recession, getting a really crappy summer job!
The real revelation I found with this film came in the form of Kristen Stewart. She's the real deal. I had seen her in Twilight recently and found everything anyone did in that film to be hollow. Here, she really shows her acting chops playing a confused youth afraid of the unknown. Jesse Eisenberg is the main character in the film, and I expected nothing but greatness from him, I previously saw him in the brilliant The Squid and the Whale. He is a very talented young actor who I expect to see a lot more from in the future.
The film has all the details of a youth summer job that sucks pegged. Everything from the one hot-chick that everyone wants, the low-rent customers, the over-zealous and possibly dellusional bosses, and on-job romance. It's all done with genuine emotion and situations. Nothing feels contrived or forced. Characters make mistaks and things go wrong, but there are no moments of the characters becoming overwrought and giving prefunctory speeches regarding the film's main themes. This is really well written.
I must warn all the video game obsessed, vapid, youth drones about what they're getting with this film. It has real characters, and a believable situation. It's a hang-out picture. You just spend time getting to know a particular group of characters who share the same crappy theme park summer job. There is no contrived plot devices, like switched or confused identities, no one is masquarading as one of the opposite sex, no plot devices to keep a false narrative going, and no gags just stuck in the film like an overlong action sequence to get yucks. Yes, the kids get wasted and high, but it has more to do with them coping with their boredom, and it also helps lead to their bonding.
The film manages to be honestly touching as well, something I really didn't expect from this piece. It was made by the same director of Super Bad, a really brilliant and funny youth comedy, but it is nothing like it. It's not as great, but its not going for the same thing. The humor comes from character and honest situations and not from over-blown comic situations just set up for the yucks.
If this film would've been advertised differently, I would've paid to see it.