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Adventureland (2009)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  3 April 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 124,073 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 217 user | 244 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

In the summer of 1987, a college graduate takes a 'nowhere' job at his local amusement park, only to find it's the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ryan McFarland ...
Jack Gilpin ...
Todd Cioppa ...
Velvet Touch Manager
Stephen Mast ...
Adam Kroloff ...
Adult Contestant
Molly Hatchet T-Shirt Guy


In 1987, James Brennan's dreams of a summer European tour before studying at an Ivy League school in New York City are ruined after his parents have a severe career setback. As a result, James must get a summer job to cover his upcoming expenses at the decrepit local amusement park, Adventureland, where he falls in love with a witty co-worker, Emily Lewin. In that bizarrely shady workplace, the young carnies have unforgettable and painful learning experiences about life, love and trust while James discovers what he truly values. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Long hours. Low pay. High times. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, drug use and sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »



Release Date:

3 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adventureland - Job d'été à éviter  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$5,722,039 (USA) (3 April 2009)


£489,686 (UK) (18 September 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »


When James applies for a job at Adventureland, he is wearing both straps of his backpack during the first shot, but in the next shot he's wearing only one strap on his right shoulder. This error repeats when he first speaks to Bobby. See more »


James Brennan: [Falco's Rock Me Amadeus song is played once again at the amusement park] Jesus Fucking Christ! They play this song like 20 times a day!
Joel: Fucking sadists. Fucking sadists!
See more »

Crazy Credits

A commercial for the Adventureland amusement park can be seen during the end credits. See more »


References Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968) See more »


Funiculi, Funicula
Music by Luigi Denza
Lyrics by Peppino Turco
Arranged and Performed by Bob Stuhmer
Courtesy of Notable Tunes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Genius, tender romance mismarketed as teen sex romp
3 April 2009 | by (prejudicemadeplausible.wordpress.com) – See all my reviews

There will be a backlash against "Adventureland", or at least a disappointed reaction from some. The reason being that the film was marketed as another raunchy-sweet comedy from the Apatow empire, when in fact it has almost nothing to do with those films, and is very different from most of writer/director Greg Mottola's previous film "Superbad" (which is great in its own way, but it's nothing like this film). It is a tender, intimate romance surrounded by goofball humor, but the extent of the 'dirty jokes' in this movie is Jesse Eisenberg's character James getting out of the pool at a house party with an erection.

The movie is a sentimental (not sappy, mind), very personal, journey through the summer of 1987 for recent college grad and deep thinker James Brennan (played superbly by Jesse Eisenberg), whose plans for the summer fall apart (due to Reaganomics affecting his father's income) resulting in him having to get a crappy job at the titular amusement park. There he meets Em, played by Kristen Stewart, and the romance, which is the focus of the film, begins. This is very, very far removed from the slob-meets-babe formula common in comedies in recent years. James is a virgin, true, a 22 year old one at that, but that has far more to do with the character's tentative nature than any 'quest' to get laid (ala "The 40 Year Old Virgin", which works on its own terms of course, but is again nothing like "Adventureland"), and he is far from bad looking. Em isn't a dolled-up 'hot chick' with perfectly styled hair and perfect style, she's moderately well-dressed and naturally beautiful, but wears makeup in a grand total of two scenes, and is actually NOT the 'babe' in the film (that's Margarita Levieva as Lisa P, who, though the 'babe', is not the sought-after one).

I am finding it hard to describe exactly why I loved this film as much as I did, but I think it mostly comes down to subtle, wonderful writing by Mottola, who was obviously telling a personal story here and did a great job of it. The screenplay is a funny, poignant take on post-collegiate angst and love, with some elements of social satire, and its focus is one of the most memorable and wonderful romances in quite some time. This romance makes Stewart's breakthrough hit "Twilight" seem even more offensively dumb, because of just how real it is.

Mottola, who absolutely nailed "Superbad" as a director, does even more with "Adventureland". His work with the actors is perhaps most notable. Bill Hader does what he did in "Superbad" and Matt Bush plays a slapstick role as Tommy Frigo, but everyone else is given more emotional poignancy and range to work with. Ryan Reynolds has abandoned his trademark smarmy shtick for a straight role in the film. As noted by Nathan Rabin in his review of "Adventureland", in a lesser film Reynolds (a failed attempt at a 'rock star' who is in an unhappy marriage and is having an affair with Em, and who is a loser to everyone but the deadbeats younger than him at the amusement park) would be a villain, James Brennan's adversary in a typical love triangle. In "Adventureland" he's a real person, and a rather tragic character. Not a nice guy, not a bad guy either. Martin Starr is great in the main supporting role as Joel. Mottola's direction is fantastic visually as well, with every scene brimming with intensity when it needs to be and the comedic timing again excellent. His use of music is absolutely spot-on, and if you thought the funky greatness of the "Superbad" soundtrack was good wait until you hear this low-key but incredible soundtrack made up almost entirely by great 80's pop songs (and not the mainstream garbage). Great musical score by Yo La Tengo as well.

The film is ultimately such a massive success I think due to Kristen Stewart. I knew she was a capable actress but did not know that she was this terrific. She is transformed into Em for the entirety of the film, and is overwhelmingly intense for the entirety of her performance, whether the raw (but not even close to raunchy) sexuality of her scenes with Eisenberg (and boy do they have a rare sort of chemistry) or the understated sadness of her scenes with Reynolds. Eisenberg and Stewart are so wonderfully understated with their performances that their romance feels realer than anything I've seen since Zooey Deschanel and Dan Schneider in David Gordon Green's "All the Real Girls". This might be a familiar journey but the treatment of Reynolds' character is only one thing Mottola does different from the John Hugheses of the world. Everything about this film is just more real and more understated than so much of what we've seen done with similar things.

The film has one or two scenes where plain lust is the focus, and absolutely none where the movie becomes about sex jokes. That James is a virgin is a side note, part of the character and nothing more. It couldn't be less about James wanting to bed Em, it couldn't be more about him being totally in love with her. Although critics are falling over themselves to praise the film (89% on RottenTomatoes at the time I'm writing this and a score in the high 70's on Metacritic) some have called it 'ordinary'. Perhaps much of the public will agree with that minority of the critics, but the film thrives on capturing 'ordinary moments'. The simple beauty of James, Em, and Joel watching fireworks on the 4th of July or a marijuana-fueled bumper car round scored to "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure. That's what this film is about. It's wonderful, it's beautiful, and if it's not a sleeper hit this year then it will eventually become a cult classic. It's something special, that much I know for sure.

293 of 334 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Kristen is so beautiful in this film. Catro
1987? Not really. Banana69
Cut the last scene Zosoerob
Alternate actresses for Em? zach1994
This was a FANTASTIC movie. tri_wizardchampion
Emilys hatred towards her step mom... silverstarcast
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