Adventures of Power
By James Rocchi,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Underdog comedy is no Napoleon Dynamite.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie thinks it has a positive message about believing in your dreams, but it's ultimately more of a message that viewers are supposed to love its lame, awkward lead character. The film also depicts a labor-vs.-management showdown, in which the lead character's air drumming dreams inspire the strikers to bet back on the line -- but it plays more like a bitter joke than a sweet moment.
Positive Role Models
The film wants to make the title character, Power, a hero in the Napoleon Dynamite/beautiful outsider mold, but ultiamately he's far too self-absorbed and pleased with himself to be sympathetic or inspiring. There's also some broad ethnic stereotyping.
Violence & Scariness
Some comedic scuffling; police use truncheons when interrupting an illegal "air drumming" competition; strike-breaking thugs beat union members. A cook uses apron-based marital arts. A man is beaten by muggers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A preteen boy asks someone when the last time was that he "sucked down some hussy spit." A passing man asks of a woman honking her horn, "I know the horn blows, but does the driver? Some kissing.
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Some strong language, including "p---y," "gay," "ass," and "piss." "Tonto" is used to describe a Native American; an Indian character is called "Jihad." "Retarded" is used as an insult.
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Products & Purchases
Only one brand, eBay, is mentioned by name.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Of-age characters drink beer and hard liquor (underage characters are seen in a bar, but they only drink soda); background characters smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this tedious Napoleon Dynamite wannabe has some comedic violence (including beatings and martial arts), some kissing and suggestive talk, and a bit of strong language (including words like "p---y" and "ass"). There are also some fairly broad ethnic caricatures that border on stereotypes. The movie is ostensibly about following your dreams, but the positive message doesn't come through very well thanks to the main character's clueless self-absorption.
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Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
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What's the Story?
In the mining town of Lode, New Mexico, Power (writer/director Ari Gold) is an air-drumming misfit. His father (Michael McKean) is a union organizer miner facing a strike, which Power can't take part in once he's fired. But Power follows his dreams of glory to Newark, joining an air-drumming group competing for a cash prize against real drummer Dallas H. (Adrian Grenier) -- who happens to be the soft-country mega-star son of the CEO of the mining company that Power's father is facing down.
Is It Any Good?
A bargain-basement rip-off of Napoleon Dynamite, ADVENTURES OF POWER spends a lot of time expecting viewers to lavish Gold's comedic creation with affection. The problem is that the film, like Power, is so cluelessly self-absorbed that it's hard to have any belief in, or sympathy for, the main character's journey and quest. Gold seems so enamored of his own work as writer, director, and star that he seems to have assumed that audiences will find that affection contagious -- the problem is, it's such a thinly crafted journey that it's hard to see any point.
There's a modicum of sweetness and condescension in Power's awkward romance with a deaf girl (Shoshana Stern) who has a very strict mother, but again, it's just an excuse to show how great the Power character's "Don't Stop Believin'" philosophy is. Shallow, silly, and self-righteously fascinated with itself, Adventures of Power is one of the least funny "comedies" in years.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the film's one-note depiction of various ethnic groups, from wacky Chinese restaurant owners to afro-sporting African-Americans. Are these portrayals stereotypical?
What do you think about the movie's "follow your dreams" theme -- is the film mocking or endorsing Power's outsider dream?
- In theaters: October 9, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: January 25, 2011
- Cast: Adrian Grenier, Ari Gold, Michael McKean
- Director: Ari Gold
- Studio: Variance Films
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language including sexual references.
- Last updated: February 25, 2023
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