First Zack & Miri Make a Porno, then My Bloody Valentine and now Adventureland. I feel like my hometown is becoming famous!!
Now, I won't kid myself, I realize one of the main reasons movies have been filmed in Pittsburgh lately is probably because it's significantly cheaper than filming in New York, but still... there's no better city to deserve some on-screen action.
I just saw Adventureland today, and the more I think about it, the more I realize I liked it. Set in 1987, the movie follows a nerdy post-grad kid that comes home to Pittsburgh for the summer and is stuck working at Adventureland, the local amusement park. It reminded me of an 80's version of Almost Famous or Dazed & Confused. The movie was funny, especially when Bill Hader and Kristen Wiigs' characters chimed in, but the movie flowed with mostly an understated humor. Ultimately, it's a sweet coming-of-age story about a kid that grows up more in one summer at a dead-end job than he did all four years at his respectable college.
The whole movie basically took place in Kennywood, the real Adventureland in Pittsburgh. I loved pointing out all the rides and seeing the park on the big screen. Although, just an FYI, the movie makes the park look really run down, but in reality, it's not run down at all. Kennywood has been around forever, but the film purposely doesn't show any of the new additions to the park or the modern roller coasters there. Fun Fact: I read that they decided to shoot at Kennywood instead of a list of other theme parks around the country because Kennywood isn't commercialized and they didn't have to cover up a bunch of advertisements and corporate sponsors for filming.
Growing up, Kennywood was the place to be seen. Every school district in Pittsburgh is given a "Kennywood Day," a weekday where there is no school and you're able to purchase discounted tickets to spend the day at the park. It was of utmost importance to look cute on Kennywood Day. Ohhh the shopping trips I would take and the hours I would spend perfecting my outfit to make sure I looked good in case I ran into any boys from school. All the girls basically looked like little hoochie-mamas on Kennywood Day. No dress-code policy there! haha
The characters felt very authentic and the film kept true to Pittsburgh-- the homes they showed looked like homes near my neighborhood and there were plenty of landscape shots that reminded me of home. The house parties and aimless driving over tons of yellow bridges brought back memories of high school as well. I also liked the random glimpses of Pittsburgh pride, like the guy playing the shooting gallery game with the Lambert jersey on. (Zack & Miri was really good with that, too.) Fun Fact #2: The directors for both Adventureland and Zack & Miri have personal ties to Pittsburgh. Kevin Smith (Zack & Miri) had a girlfriend from Pittsburgh and always loved the city and told himself he'd like to film there someday and Greg Mottola (Adventureland) got his undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
My advice-- go see it.
Pittsburgh being in the movies isn't new, though. Throughout the years, lots of popular movies have been filmed in my hometown. Here are a few to jog your memory of the Steel City on the Silver Screen:
- Wonder Boys
- Inspector Gadget
- Milk Money
- Groundhog Day
- The Silence of the Lambs
- The Deer Hunter