Studio-produced American comedies rarely leave me satisfied these days. It often seems as though Hollywood has outsourced its sense of humor to the indies: Humpday and Big Fan both contain observant portraits of flawed personalities capable of generating serious pathos without disabusing viewers of the right to laugh at their true-to-life flaws. But The Ugly Truth and Post-Grad are gleefully oblivious.
Greg Mottola's Adventureland, which hit DVD today, briefly restored my faith in big budget comedies when I saw it at Sundance in January. Mottola, the director with Superbad and Daytrippers on his resume (not to mention the recently completed Paul), might be one of the last hopes of genuine humor-filled entertainment in the American film industry. Mike Judge comes right behind with his upcoming Extract, and Bobcat Goldthwait would make that list, too, if he had the opportunity to stop making indies and direct a studio comedy with the ability to have final cut.
But Goldthwait's movies are liberating simply because his stories' dark, subversive tendencies reflect the freedom behind the camera. Mottola doesn't need freedom. He only requires a moment of your time to catch you off guard and deliver smart, believable coming-of-age dramedies that put his original benefactor (rhymes with "Shmudd Shmapatow") to shame. Here's the Adventureland trailer. Check out the DVD, which contains a nifty behind-the-scenes doc and commentary from Mottola and star Jesse Eisenberg.