At first I thought it was the strangest mash-up to have Superbad director Greg Mottola writing the screenplay for Jeffrey Eugenides‘ novel The Marriage Plot. Although both pieces of work deal with coming of age and exploring your sexuality, there’s a vast difference between Eugenides’ literature-obsessed heroine Madeleine and Jonah Hill‘s character cursed with the affliction of drawing dicks all the time.
However, this very different viewpoint could be beneficial toward the book’s adaptation to film. The highbrow nature of The Marriage Plot – including Madeleine’s obsession with the literary trope that gives the novel its title — was a turn-off for me in parts. While I could relate to the characters slowly finding themselves (through volunteer work in India and weathering mental illness) as well as the love triangle between sturdy Leonard and geeky Mitchell, in some ways I still felt detached from the 1980s setting and didn’t really root for any characters.
But Mottola wrote Adventureland, which shares a lot in common with The Marriage Plot: The protagonist graduates from Oberlin in 1987 and plans to spend the summer in Europe before grad school, when his parents tell him they’re cutting him off financially and instead he’s forced to work at an amusement park. Critics praised Mottola for conjuring up the 1980s atmosphere without being campy; furthermore, the performances across the board were stellar and the love story believable.
In fact, The Marriage Plot‘s underdog Mitchell reminds me a lot of Jesse Eisenberg‘s role here. Considering that almost half of the book is from his point of view, we need someone who’s already proven that he understands this specific perspective. So far Mottola is just in early talks, but I’m already warming to the idea.
Photos: Vulture, Goodreads