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Jesse Eisenberg Tag

exit-lines-logoWhen you’ve seen a show, and afterwards you obsess about punching its playwright and star in the mouth–well, something has gone wrong. Or, maybe, that’s what its playwright and star wants you to obsess about. He pretty much says as much right here. All I can say is, Jesse Eisenberg, thank you and fuck you for ruining my weekend with The Spoils, now torturing audiences at the ass end of 42nd Street. In a very pleasant space, I might add, but trust me, your comfort ends with your chair.

The funny thing is, a few days earlier I had seen Eisenberg in a good movie, The End of the Tour, where he plays a journalist road-tripping with Jason Segel, as author David Foster Wallace. It’s a good movie, in part, because the 31-year-old Eisenberg, who often plays jerks, is playing a level-headed adult, envious and prying, perhaps, but professional. Looking at his resume, I should amend my comment to say that he

I’m in a relationship with The Social Network. I like The Social Network. No, more than like—I know an instant classic when I see one, and The Social Network is an instant classic, right up there with Brokeback Mountain and Pan’s Labyrinth and a handful of other movies that carry you away from their opening scenes.

With two weeks at No. 1 and a stack of reviews David Fincher’s mom could have written I feel I’m off the hook for the dreaded plot summary, so I’ll just riff. Let’s put it in Facebook form, call it “10 Observations About The Social Network.” Tag your friends and we’ll collect dozens more! (Send them to me at my Farmville address, sorry, uh, no one’s bought me a mailbox yet.)

1. The Social Network is “faction” at its best. Not altogether fact or entirely fiction, rather a loose combination of both, the film succeeds because from moment to moment it feels true. Does it matter that the unobtainable Erica (Rooney Mara), the reason why we have faces to book, is fictitious? No—through her the movie explores matters of the heart (and issues of privacy) that would otherwise be difficult to dramatize. Is Larry Summers as big a jerk in real life as he is in the movie? Probably, but I say that only because he comes off poorly in Charles Ferguson’s muckraking documentary Inside Job, too, so I figure these folks know something I only suspect. How true are the Harvard scenes to a student’s actual experience there? To Mark Zuckerberg’s?

Back in the day, I spent part of every summer in the vicinity of the Seaside Heights amusement park on the Jersey Shore. The log flume, the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Himalaya ride…magic. The fried and frozen food was to die (and it may kill me yet). If I’d kept all those quarters and dollars spent trying to win tapes, CDs, and stuffed animals I’d be in the chips today. But I wouldn’t trade the fun I had with my family on those vacations for anything, and I look forward to taking my daughter someday (mom will however have to escort her on the rollercoasters; dad’s always been kind of a wuss in that regard).

I always thought it would be cool to run the water balloon races or activate the spinning wheels, all while breathlessly announcing the action. But according to Adventureland, which bows on DVD today, I had it wrong. The rides are where the heat is; the games are for losers, a half-step up from the dunking booth geeks. It’s this ninth circle of hell that James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is stuck in when his parents’ drastically changed financial picture forces him to abandon a pre-grad school trip to Europe and get a job at Adventureland, the local park in his native Pittsburgh.

Writer/director Greg Mottola based the film on his own late-blooming coming-of-age misery, and set it in the summer of 1987. James is a virgin, and awkward around the ladies, but his clumsy honesty makes him a better-than-usual catch for Em (Kristen Stewart), who rescues him from an angry customer. (James has to give up an outsized panda, the sort of trophy I once lusted after, violating the cardinal rule of Bill Hader’s rabidly officious park manager.) James’ other asset is a steady supply of low-grade pot, which he doles out to some of Adventureland’s other staff misfits. These include the chronically sarcastic Joel (Martin Starr), the overgrown adolescent Frigo (Matt Bush), and the sexy Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), who shocks James by asking him out on a date. James is wise to have another possible girlfriend in reserve, as the insecure Em is under the spell of Adventureland heartthrob Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who spins tales of having played with Lou Reed and doesn’t let his marriage get in the way of a good time.