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Adventureland (2009)

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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:
Kelsey Ford ...
Ryan McFarland ...
Jack Gilpin ...
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  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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


$16,025,394 (USA) (22 May 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie was originally set to debut the same day the real Adventureland park reopened for business in 2009: 27 March. See more »


President Ronald Reagan is seen on television delivering a speech. This particular speech was given on August 12, 1987, but in the film it occurs before July 4th. 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 »


References Donkey Kong (1981) See more »


Waltz of the Flowers
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Arranged and Performed by Bob Stuhmer
Courtesy of Notable Tunes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Advenutreland has a misleading trailer problem
6 April 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Do you know that feeling you get when you've been lied to about a movie. A while back when In Bruges came out, the trailers pitched the movie as a wacky, Guy-Ritche-esquire, comedy with midgets and whores. Imagine the surprise of most of the movie goers when they went to see this film, and it turns out to be a very dark comedy, written about a suicidal hit man who is know facing regret and depression in the worst vacation spot ever. This feeling of surprise can sometimes make or brake how a movie is received for some people. Most of the time the audience will walk out of the film thinking that they've been lied to just so they will have payed for a ticket and other times the audience realizes that, if the movie wasn't pitched to them as this picture that they've seen before, they wouldn't have seen the film in the first place.

This is how I felt when I left Adventureland. Let me get this out of the way, Adventureland is NOT A COMEDY. I know the trailers pitch it as one, the director says it's one, and under the genre section of IMDb it says 'Comedy. But, this film, honestly, has two jokes in it, most of them supplied by Bill "By God You're In Everything Aren't You?" Hader. I'm not saying that this film only has two jokes in it like there are a lot of jokes in here but they're not funny. I'm saying that they're are only two jokes. Yes, Adventureland was pitched to us a romantic teen comedy about a horrible summer job but instead the film is a romantic drama that focuses on 21+ year old, coping with the fact that life is in fact full of sour lemons and you need to take a horrible job because it's the only thing you can do. I too was surprised that Adventureland wasn't a comedy but once you get past that, the film is actually very enjoyable and turns out to be one of the most intimate romance films on the same scale as 'Once.'

The film centers around the double named protagonist, Brennan James. Who is a couple thousand short of the money he needs for his trip around Europe as well as the first couple months rent for when he starts going to school in NYC. His parents inform him that his dad has been demoted and he's gonna have to pay for the money himself. The only job that is still hiring is the seedy amusement park Adventureland where all of the employees do nothing but talk about how much their job sucks, smoke weed and get drunk during their shifts. Brennan-James falls in love with the smart-dangerous girl, Em. But due to his drug connections, the hot girl of the theme park starts to become attracted to him. A love triangle turns into a square, then a hexagon and soon just a big pile of mess.

The film itself could go for a very whimsical style here due to the amusement park setting but because of the directors previous works (Freaks and Geeks and Superbad) he decided to go for a super-realistic approach. I also feel like he chose to direct this drama because he wanted to expand himself as a director. The direction itself is pretty subtle, which is for the best. I was really engrossed in the script itself and I felt like any "special" work the director put in it might have taken me out of this twenty-something romance story.

The story is a very good one. This too goes for the extremely realistic approach. Watching this film I remembered all of the times I had experienced something like this with a girl and that's when I realized that the film had totally sucked me in. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen to Brennan and Em and once their relationship hit a couple of big rocks I remembered all of the times I had nearly ruined my relationships by doing something stupid. (i.e. listening to my penis and not my brain)

I was worried about the acting at first, it has a newbie as the lead and the twilight girl as his love interest. Not to mention Ryan Renolds playing a mentor figure, one that is a couple of cockiness points away from being the one in Waiting. However the director must have worked his magic with these three because they display some of the best performances I've seen in a while. They emote, they repress, they do everything a real person does in a relationship to the degree where their characters are so well developed your rubbing your eyes in disbelief like some kind f college screwball comedy. Then again, realism seems to be the thing Adventureland seems to do be going for.

This film is trying to grab the attention of the forty-somethings that were twenty-somethings in 1980 by making the most realistic nostalgia trip I've ever seen. The costumes seem like they're right out of value village, the dialog seems like you could have said it today and the acting makes the characters seem as if they're real people.

If feel that Adventureland wasn't pitched to the audience as a dramatic look at young love during the backdrop of the late 1980's because in the latter part of this decade, the only way young people are willing to look at the 1980's is through the eyes of irony. Looking at hot new styles as stupid idiotic fashion choices. Adventureland looks past all of that and makes a film that seem to be a grown up Sixteen Candles and because of this new approach to a beaten down idea, I not only applaud this movie but recommend it to people who have been looking for something new.

182 of 263 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
satellite of love Meaning krozzrodd-97239
1987? Not really. Banana69
Kristen is so beautiful in this film. Catro
Cut the last scene Zosoerob
Alternate actresses for Em? zach1994
This was a FANTASTIC movie. tri_wizardchampion
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