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Adventureland (2009)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  3 April 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 124,110 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


Nothing brings people together like a crappy summer job. 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?


James Brennan's (Jesse Eisenberg) friend Eric had gotten into Harvard. Jesse Eisenberg went on to portray Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network" in 2010 who was enrolled at Harvard. See more »


During the movie, you can see a ride called "Wipeout". The movie takes place in 1987, though the actual ride was opened in 1991. See more »


Em Lewin: I thought you were off today.
James Brennan: I need to tell you something. Last week I went on a date with Lisa P. She asked me out. It was nothing. We kissed a little bit at the end of the date and I felt her breast a little bit, but nothing else.
Em Lewin: Right. No intercourse?
James Brennan: No. No intercourse. Look, I'm sorry. It's just you and I never talked about being exclusive. I don't want to see her again, okay? You're the one I.
James Brennan: Look, we'll both be in New York soon and I want to hang out with you. I want to get to...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Half in the Bag: Paul and Toronto Comic Con (2011) See more »


America the Beautiful
Written by Katharine Lee Bates and Samuel A. Ward
Arranged and Performed by Bob Stuhmer
Courtesy of Notable Tunes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Complex and Moving
1 September 2009 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

'Adventureland' is a melancholy voyage into the grey zone between adolescence and adulthood, school and career, lust and relationships, frivolity and responsibility. That is to say it is not 'Superbad' and that's supergood.

Upon graduating, comparative literature major James Brennan is informed that due to his father's recent demotion (alcoholism is an implied cause), the parents will not be funding his planned and hopefully transformative European vacation. James returns to his parents' Pittsburgh home with virginity and intellectual pretensions intact.

Still planning on attending Columbia Journalism School and needing funds, James seeks summer employment and settles for a job as a game both operator at Adventureland, a local amusement park that has seen better days. He is after all a comp lit major and not even qualified for manual labor.

Of course Adventureland is more than meets the eye. We're introduced to the interior lives of park employees. Extremely powerful performances are provided by Jesse Eisenberg, Martin Starr, Margarita Levieva, Ryan McFarland, and especially Kristen Stewart as James's sort of girlfriend Em.

These are not stock characters (with the exception of the ballbusting Frigo character, put here for childish laughs). The characters are emotionally and behaviorally complex. They wrestle with what it means to be young (or not so young) what it is to be in a relationship, the meaning of sex, employment, violence, drug use, fidelity, intellectualism, relationships with parents and their new spouses, the value of education. In short, what it means to be a person.

To enhance its verisimilitude, the film is mostly set to mid eighties tunes (Expose, The Mary Jane Girls, etc.). These songs are of the mid-eighties, but the film is set in 1987. It's a slight jab at the less than cutting edge nature of Pittsburghian society circa 1987. No matter, the film does not ridicule the zeitgeist. Rather, it takes seriously the emotional resonance of the sex, the music, the clothes, the hair, the ganja, the drinking, and the want to all involved (it was serious) and in so doing achieves poignancy.

The film touched me and not just because I was almost James's age living not too far from Pittsburgh in 1987, but because it addresses what it means to be on the shaky cusp of adulthood in such an honest way. A must see.

43 of 51 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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