Here's a case of a film that was totally mis-marketed. I'll admit, I finally saw Adventureland quite a bit late, after it had already moved theaters (and in my case, the fact that I was literally the only one in the theater(!) can probably more be blamed on that fact as well as that it was 4 o'clock on a weekday), but it's still easy to gauge how much it deserved a better fate. The marketing campaign sold it as a rather ribald, silly comedy, with comic actors like Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, and from the director of Superbad (and the movie font and colors even look a little Superbad-ish, and Jesse Eisenberg even seems at first glance like Michael Cera's slightly older brother), and I guess you can't totally blame them, but the film -- although it definitely has its share of laughs -- isn't just a comedy or a coming of age story but goes deeper than that to create a wholly relatable universe of people that you care about. I even found the ending moving, unexpectedly so.
I'll admit I'm also a sucker for the soundtrack -- which was the soundtrack of my high school years (I was in h.s., just finishing it, in the year the film is set, 1987): from Minneapolis punk/indie rockers Husker Du to the more pop-ish, mellow new wave of Crowded House, this was my soundtrack too. While a cynic may say that the film doesn't necessarily had to have been set then, but it's not just the music that is of that time and place, it's the characters and more importantly the locale itself, the fading amusement park, that needed to go 2 decades back.
Both Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart are so incredibly appealing and empathetic young actors (sad to me that millions more will see her in Twilight than in this), as is the supporting cast, which includes Freaks and Geeks/Knocked Up's Martin Starr as his philosophizing, pipe-smoking, insecure friend, along with some relative newcomers, and Ryan Reynolds who makes what could have been a caricature of a role, the older guy cheating on his wife with girls who are way too young for him, into a 3-dimensional creation -- you even feel for him a bit, despite what a slime he is. The cast raises it to even another level.
Anyway, see it, and bring friends so you're not the only one in the theater.
Meanwhile, here's Martin Starr talking to Slash Film about the movie, in this bit about how it was marketed -- or wasn't:
Yeah. The marketing for Adventureland just seemed way the fuck off. The premise was great and so was the cast, but by the time it was released, the marketing made me not want to see it. It made me un-psyched. The TV-spots had, like, studio indifference: like here’s this great comedy that isn’t “loud” and it’s a fucking chore for them to deal with. Does that make sense?
Martin Starr: Yeah. [big laugh] I think that had things gone different…you know, I’m not too disappointed with how things turned out though. I mean, if [Miramax] were smarter, they would have aimed some of the marketing at the Twilight crowd and focused on [co-star] Kristen Stewart. Those fans come out in triplicate, with their parents. [Twilight's following] is a bit creepy, but they’re nice; we met some of them at Sundance. Something that Judd taught me was to keep your hopes high and your expectations low. And I had total faith in [director] Greg [Mottola], but after I saw the film, I was like “Holy Shit.” I think Adventureland is a film that in 10 years, I think people will really appreciate. Do they right now? I have no idea.