August 26, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II, III & IV • Page 19 ‘Adventureland’ traces graduate’s unexpected summer by Dennis Seuling “Adventureland” (Walt Disney Home Entertainment), available on Blu-ray and DVD, is the bittersweet story of James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg, “The Squid and the Whale”) who, upon graduating from college in 1987, looks forward to traveling through Europe that summer and attending Columbia University’s grad school in the fall. These plans are dashed when his parents (Wendy Malick, Jack Gilpin) inform him that his father was recently demoted and they no longer can afford to pay for the European trip. In addition, to help pay for grad school, he will have to get a summer job in his home town of Pittsburgh. Rebuffed by several potential employers because of his lack of experience, James finally gets a job at a local amusement park, Adventureland, operated by Paulette and Bobby (Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader). Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds) is the park’s maintenance man, a bit older than the college age employees, and rumored to have rubbed shoulders with show biz types. Though marketed as a wild and freewheeling teen comedy, “Adventureland is a drama. Sure, it has its funny moments, some based on the antics of “Saturday Night Live” veterans Wiig and Hader, and others based on romantic awkwardness and James’ journey from child to young adult. Eisenberg has an endearing, puppy-dog screen persona that works perfectly here. Viewers immediately sympathize with him when his plans are suddenly thrown into turmoil, and are impressed at his ability to accept a bad break and make the best of a tough situation. Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) plays James’ love interest and Martin Starr (“Knocked Up”) is the wisecracking nerd. The soundtrack turns the clock back to 1980’s Top 40, with music by The Cure, David Bowie, Crowded House, INXS, Lou Reed, and more. Extras include deleted scenes, a makingof featurette, commentary by director Greg Mottola and Eisenberg, and a digital copy of the film. Exclusive on the Blu-ray release are “Welcome to Adventureland,” a collection of the park’s commercials, orientation training video, and drug policy; and a satirical behind-the-scenes featurette. “Children of the Corn” (Anchor Bay Entertainment), new on Blu-ray, is the 1984 adaptation of a Stephen King tale that turns children into monsters. Following in the tradition of “The Bad Seed” and “Village of the Damned,” “Children of the Corn” sets out to shatter the notion that childhood is a time of innocence. The opening scene grabs the viewer right away. In Gatlin, Nebraska, a small farming community, the citizens follow church on Sunday with breakfast at the local coffee shop. One morning, however, the town’s children rise up against the adults, poisoning their coffee and slashing their throats in a violent, horrifying sequence. Skip ahead three years. Burt and Vicky (Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton) have an accident outside Gatlin and walk to town, searching for help, but they find no adults. Eventually, they discover that the children of Gatlin have formed a religious cult around an evil entity, “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” Though far from a classic, this film has an enormous following and has inspired six sequels, five released directly to DVD. Its appeal lies partly in the performances of the two young leads. John Franklin plays Isaac, the nine-year-old prophet who organized the cult, and Courtney Gains, who portrays the odd-looking and unsettling Malachai. Extras include the featurette, “Welcome to Gatlin: The Sight and Sounds of Children of the Corn,” an interview with Linda Hamilton, audio commentary by director Fritz Kiersch and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains, and the documentary “Harvesting Horror: Children of the Corn.” “Nikkatsu Noir” (Criterion Collection) is a five-disc box set containing five feature films from Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan. From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, Nikkatsu specialized in brutal crime movies to attract the youth audiences that were becoming accustomed to American big-screen imports. In “I Am Waiting” (1957), a restaurant manager and former boxer saves a beautiful, suicidal club hostess trying to escape the bonds of her gang- Joel (Martin Starr, left) and James (Jesse Eisenberg) are coworkers at a Pittsburgh amusement park in ‘Adventureland.’ ster employer. “Rusty Knife” (1958) has former hoodlums trying to leave behind a life of crime only to have their lawless past resurface when the authorities seek them out as witnesses to murder. “Take Aim at the Police Van” (1960) is an action whodunit. A police truck is attacked and a gangster inside is murdered. 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