The story of a kid visiting a magical world is nothing new to storytelling. With such classics as A Wrinkle in Time and The Chronicles of Narina the idea of children going back and forth between two dimensions is nothing new. But what happens when the line between the two is blurred? What if the waking world and the fantasy world are constantly vying for the same space, both grasping at the fabric of your mind?
Wes Anderson has done it again. When I initially saw the trailer for the film something about it screamed failure. The archaic stop-motion animation, the lack of a strong plot and a cast of characters that look to be one dimensional all seemed like the potential for some wire thin filmmaking with covered up with a few charming elements. But once again Wes Anderson has flirted with near disaster and sidestepped simplicity by a narrow margin. And to make my own review a bit of a challenge I’m going to refrain from using the q-word that gets slapped on every Wes Anderson picture.
2007 saw a small resurgence of food related feature films with three notable pictures: Pixar’s superb tale of a rodent chef in Ratatouille, Adrienne Shelly’s tragically final film about a pies and an affair in Waitress and poor romance wrapped around some solid drama in No Reservations. Some of that goodness has rubbed off on Julie & Julia and while it doesn’t reach the quality of any of those films it does continue in that spirit.
This is around the time of year where movie theaters start releasing motion pictures that are a bit more on the serious side. It’s time for the dramatic and emotional (and I don’t mean that poorly manufactured romantic comedy emotional). But since I live in the middle of Texas in a cinematic cesspool the closest thing I’ll get to a drama this side of Christmas will be a movie about football. Therefore, it’s up to the indie scene and the power of Netflix instant to give me that dramatic fix until Oscar season rolls around.
Welcome to Adventureland, the film where the carnival isn’t a setpiece for the entire third act of your zombie film but a much more horrifying place where you have to deal with real people. The main attraction is the spinning disk that blends comedy and drama into some kind of mutant dramedy. And if you don’t like that flavor of centripetal force think of it as a crazy roller coaster of emotions, laugh and guys getting punched in the balls.