I love Richard Linklater's "Dazed & Confused." Yes, I think it's funny and well-written and well-performed and I love the soundtrack and the sense of time and place... but what makes the film a classic for me is the way it's not about a story at all, but is instead about an experience.
I know I had that night in high school. That first night where I got caught up with friends and with possibilities and when I got totally lost, adrift in the night, not caring at all about curfew or consequence. I think most people have a night like that, or many nights like that, and I think they're an essential part of the transition from childhood to adulthood, a milestone in adolescence. I thought Linklater and his huge ensemble cast perfectly captured that night, that feeling, a time and place. And because of that very special, distinct approach, "Dazed and Confused" almost feels like a real memory, and not just a movie.
Greg Mottola's heartfelt and pitch-perfect new film "Adventureland" hits me the exact same way, and from the moment it got overshadowed at Sundance by the much showier Fox Searchlight rom-com "500 Days Of Summer," I've felt protective of this film, taking any negative comment on it almost personally. If "Dazed" is the movie about that first night of freedom, then "Adventureland" is the movie about that first summer job. And thanks to the talented ensemble cast and Mottola's deft touch with tone, this isn't just some teen comedy aiming at the easy set piece or the gross-out gag. It's a sincere look back at that moment when you first enter the workforce, and suddenly you find yourself with a whole new social group, a whole new set of dynamics to negotiate, access to things you've never had access to.
[more after the jump]