Adventureland / Paul Blart: Mall Cop / Fanboys

Adventureland
A romantic comedy/‘summer’ movie set in the late-80s that refreshingly manages to steer clear of all the clichés those three labels would normally denote. Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, the forthcoming Kill Your Darlings) and Kristen Stewart (the tweenage glittery-vampire Mormon abstinence parable Twilight, the forthcoming Joan Jett biopic The Runaways) star as a couple of bored teenagers who get crappy summer jobs in an amusement park, smoke pot and fall in love. Has a firm grip on its brand of understated, comedy and perfectly captures the awkwardness of adolescent romantic fumblings. This is the best film of its kind since Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop
An amalgam of everything that is wrong with middle America. An obese, Segway-riding, power-tripping mall security guard (Kevin James, TV’s King of Queens) hell-bent on asserting his moral authority and imposing his will on others finds himself alone in the mall with a bunch of “terrorists.” Surprise surprise, he saves the day and gets the girl. Aimed at the lowest common denominator, this has more contempt for its audience than Transformers 2 or Roland Emmerich’s particularly vomitous brand of apocalypse porn. Inferior to Jody Hill’s riotous mall cop flick Observe and Report in almost every way, this is the cinematic equivalent of a nearly-indigestible 3a.m. kebab.

Fanboys
It’s pre-Bittorrent 1999, and a group of Star Wars nerds wants to sneak one of their number into Skywalker Ranch to see a workprint of The Phantom Menace before he dies of some kind of cancer that’s never really fully explained. There’s a road trip, a Kevin Smith-like level of pop culture reverence/homage, and the obligatory American Pie-style antics (and dick and fart jokes) expected from something of this calibre. There’s Kristen Bell (TV’s Veronica Mars, Heroes, and the uncredited voiceover on Gossip Girl) who provides both feminine wiles—boobies—and comic relief. There’s the always-great Jay Baruchel (from Judd Apatow’s oft-unjustly maligned Undeclared) and, up front, Sam Huntington, who it turns out hasn’t really done anything non-suckful since 1999’s glorious paean to glam-rock, Detroit Rock City. Great fun if you turn your mind off almost entirely—or are suitably inebriated.

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