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Genius, tender romance mismarketed as teen sex romp
ametaphysicalshark3 April 2009
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.
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Complex and Moving
drosent1111 September 2009
'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.
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Roller-coaster of Love
oscarxp257 April 2009
"Adventureland"- ***1/2 BY: Kevin Muller The marketing for this film is terrible, just absolutely awful. The studio is pushing this film as the next "Superbad", just because the director of that film directed this gem. The truth is, this is far different than "Superbad", besides a few gross out gags. Where that film prided itself on its crudeness and vulgarity, this film prides itself on heart and pure emotion.

"Adventureland" has the feel of teen movies both from the 80's and 90's (more the 80's though). You have a sensitive character who is still trying to figure out who he is, and by a sequence of events, falls in love and more importantly, finds his true self. What makes the movie even more appealing is that it not only doesn't treat its characters as generic stereotypes, but as humans, which makes them more appealing to the audience.

Our main character here is James (played perfectly by Jessie Eisenberg) who has just graduated college and is looking forward to his trip to Europe with his fellow pal. The trip is not only supposed to be his graduation present, but also a way to escape his recent heartbreak, due to an emotional breakup. Things unfortunately go south with his finances, which forces him to get a job at the local amusement park. There he meets some interesting people: the two owners (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), nerdy Joel (the likable Martin Starr) and the beautiful "Em" (Kristen Stewert).

James and Em quickly fall for each other, but there is one small problem, she is in a very dysfunctional relationship with Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who plays the married park maintenance guy. Reynolds, who usually adds the goofy humor to every film he is in, holds back to really give the character a deepness that I was surprised he pulled off. I thought his performance was going to be similar to his Monty character from "Waiting". I applaud the restraint that he held throughout the film, because the character could have gone down that route very easily.

What makes this film work though is that director Greg Mottola doesn't overdo any aspect of the movie. The comedy, drama, and situations are all well balanced, which makes the film feel real. As I stated before, Reynolds is grounded, as is the rest of the cast with their performances. Eisenberg, who is accused of playing Michael Cera, gives a very layered and human performance. I am sorry to you Cera fans, but the awkward and caring guy thing was around way before Cera did it. Stewert, is just perfect in this role, she gives Em vulnerability, but makes her lovable at the same time. These two give perfect performances because neither of them have all the answers and it is about the deep connection they share, not just about the sex.

Go see this film, it deserves to be seen. This is a movie that Hollywood doesn't make anymore; a sweet, smart, moving and humorous experience that hopefully starts a chain of movies like it to follow.
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Very touching, realistic dramedy
eden05238324 July 2009
I can honestly say that I haven't seen as good a movie as this in a long time. Most of the characters you can relate to in some kind of way or you may possibly know someone who is similar to them.

This movie was definitely advertised wrong; it seemed as though it was going to be a crude but funny comedy like superbad only there was a hell of a lot more seriousness and romance involved.

Kristen Stewart who plays Em Lewin does a fantastic job of showing multiple emotions in a single expression. Anyone who claims she can't act must not have seen this.

Jesse Eisenburg playing James also does very well in being one of those smart, funny, intellectual types who at the same time doesn't talk down to people in a condescending way.

And may I say bravo to Bill Hader and Kristen Wigg who had just the right comedic timing. Martin Starr also did surprisingly well as someone who knew where his place was in the world.

Adventureland has the right balance of drama and comedy so you're never left feeling bored. This movie will continue to be one of my favorites probably for years to come.
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Advenutreland has a misleading trailer problem
dr_brendan6 April 2009
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.
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Good "Coming of Age" Drama/Comedy
J_Trex9 April 2009
While watching this movie, it wasn't clear if this was supposed to be a comedy or a drama, so it's difficult to put this into a category. It was funny and sad, so I'd classify it as a comedy/drama.

The movie takes place in the 1980's and the main character is forced to take a job a Pittsburgh area amusement park called "Adventureland" so he can save enough money to attend graduate school. While his parents feel the job is beneath his college degree qualifications, it's the only job he can find so he takes it, and ends up working the game show booths. While working there, he meets Kristen Stewart, and they develop a romantic relationship, which takes up a large chunk of the movie. Kristen, incidentally, seems to be playing the same exact character she played in "Twilight", wounded and needy.

Based on the trailers, I was expecting something along the lines of "Superbad" but the movie was a lot closer to "Dazed & Confused", a well written period piece of the 1970's. The comedy aspect of the movie was in the interactions with his friends, parents, co-workers, and supervisors. There weren't a lot of LOL moments, but the humor is more in identifying with the characters and their lives.

I enjoyed the movie and anyone living or growing up during the 1980's will appreciate the mood & music of the film.
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Superbad's Daddy
CodyGriffis26 January 2009
I saw this movie at The Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City and I've been wanting to see it for months but I have a habit of anticipating movies and building them up, then once I see them I am disappointed. This was not the case. It is a lot like Superbad set in the 80's and minus the drawings. The quirky, awkward humor is there, the teen party humor is there, the love humor is there. One thing this movie has that Superbad didn't though, is a truly heart felt and believable love story that gives Adventureland a bit of a more serious tone. While it is hilarious it also has you really pulling for the young lovers and gets you involved in their affairs. With out giving too much away, all I can say is 'Go see this movie. If you liked Superbad, you'll like Adventureland, if you hated Superbad, you'll like Adventureland. It's a win-win situation.'
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Adventureland vs. Superbad :: No Contest
Filmmaker1026 April 2009
Adventureland is one of the best teenage films I have ever seen. I almost am upset by the advertising plan and budget the film had because if it was given enough commercial advertisement it would've been as successful as Superbad. Sadly this film went under the radar and wasn't given the acclaim it deserved. As a teen exploitation film, this movie accurately describes, interprets, and expresses the mind of a teenager and incredibly gives any teenage viewer a sense of closure. Because unlike Superbad, the characters in Adventureland are easy to relate to and are more vulnerable in an emotional sense. Anyone who sees this film to relax and enjoy a bit of comedy with a heartfelt story, or to reminisce about their teenage years, their first jobs or their personal time at Adventureland, or even to watch a teenage love story will get what they were looking for.
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A few laughs, mildly entertaining at best, poorly edited
missourienne26 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was just OK--there's really nothing surprising whatsoever, other than how much it smacks of bad editing and/or careless errors. Spoilers from now on: Each character's story is glazed over quickly, then dragged out as it plays through the current time. No emotional attachment possible--and I'm the sort that tends to 'live' the movie when I watch it. Not this time. I expected the movie to center around the job experiences; instead, it is a tired, overdone "virgin falls in love with odd girl" story, and the park just happens to be where he meets her (and others he befriends). A few funny things happen there (at the park), nothing more. The movie seems to promote pot nearly as often as a Cheech & Chong flick--seriously, it adds NOTHING to this movie, very pointless. Worst part: the ending. Are we really supposed to believe he just suddenly finds Em in NYC (amazing powers of divination), then after a convo in the rain, all is great???!! Barf. Next, please.
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Pointless and NOT funny!
monsterbug27 May 2010
This movie is not what you signed up for when you entered the theater. Over the entire length of its duration, there are literally two jokes worth laughing about. The rest is sheer teenage boredom, spiced up - I have to admit - with the pretty solid performances of Eisenberg and Stewart. Other than that, there's nothing new to this picture, it's just pointless in its shallow depiction of the gloom and frustration of young age. If the film had been advertised in a different manner - according to its real theme - I wouldn't have gone to watch it. It's a drama disguised as a hilarious fun fest. Not amusing, to say the least. And pretty boring on top of that. If you want a good time at the movies, stay away from this downer!
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Just mediocre
MW326 January 2010
Adventureland is neither as good as the fanboys claim nor as bad as some of the semi-illiterate posters here say. It's just a mediocre coming-of-age movie, which unfortunately seems to think it's smarter than it really is. Just because you mention Melville and Horace does not mean you are an intellectual with something deep to say. It just means you took a couple of lit courses and remembered a couple of things. (Although, in the 21st century, that qualifies you as smarter than 75% of moviegoers.) Clichés abound in Adventureland, from Em showing how wonderfully good-hearted she is by criticizing a girl who won't date a Jew, to every single adult in the movie being a fool, to the nerdy guy who hasn't had sex yet, to a romantic meeting in the rain.... Once again, the fact that this thing is hailed as a good movie shows just how lousy most movies are. Admittedly, it tries to be more than a dumb teen movie, but trying does not equal success.
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I Love the '80s
OtherBrotherDarryl5 April 2009
And I loved this movie.

I grew up in the '80s, and have always had a fondness for the decade. So much so that I've always thought that if I ever manage to write a screenplay, it will probably be set in that era. Until today, I hadn't seen a movie set in the '80s that I really loved, unless it was made back then. I learned to love movies in the '80s, and this one felt like it could easily have been made back then. It isn't like other '80s retro films that hit you over the head with winks and nods to the quirks of that era. You won't see anyone trying to solve a Rubik's Cube while doing the moonwalk in a pair of parachute pants and saying "totally rad."

You also won't see a Superbad retread (people have complained that the ads are misleading). There's lots of great laughs, but it comes mostly from subtle situational moments, not in-your-face punchline dialog. This is a character driven movie, and Jesse Eisenberg really shines in a very likable performance as the geekish underdog out to win the heart of the cool and beautiful but angst-ridden Kristen Stewart.

Most of the performances are wonderful, but the writing is what truly makes this movie great. Some of the most memorable moments involve the dark side of amusement parks. The real Adventureland park, where writer/director Motolla once worked, can't be too happy with this film. I imagine they might want to sue, if only that wouldn't bring even more news and attention to the shenanigans that occur there. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but "shenanigans" is putting it kindly.

The '80s was the decade where coming-of-age dramedies blossomed with great soundtracks, and Adventureland pays off in that regard as well.

Motolla himself has warned: "I hope people who grew up in the '80s don't assume it's not for them." Those who are expecting another raunchy teen romp like Superbad may be disappointed. These "kids" are probably old enough to drink legally, though that doesn't appear to be their drug of choice. This movie has more in common with Almost Famous and Outside Providence than it does with Superbad, and not just because it's semi-autobiographical. Though the humor isn't quite as prevalent as it is in Superbad, I found the laughter that it did evoke to be far more satisfying.
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clever, witty, and absolutely enjoyable
sweetjesska2 April 2009
So I saw "Adventureland" at an advanced screening and I found it to be quite entertaining and funny with a certain "real & genuine" vibe. It takes place in the mid-80's and involves a college grad played by fairly newcomer, Jesse Eisenberg who takes a job at a local amusement park to save money in hope to go to New York. Though the job maybe dreary; he finds himself having the best time of his life. I personally loved how director, "Greg Mottola" incorporated a few clever sequences one involving "weed cookies" which just made it diverse to other teen comedies. The music was typical 80's which also made the movie that much more fun! I particularly loved "Lou Reed." All in all the story and characters were enjoyable to watch and you can truly find yourself relating to them. It may not compare to movies such as "Superbad" comedy wise because it is much more of a semi "dark humor" type reminiscent to "Juno." Genuinely speaking, I personally really enjoyed this movie and would actually see it again with friends at the theater for a good time, which I can't say I would for the majority of other teen comedies out there.
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sh*t sandwich
thedude1979200317 November 2009
This is one of the most boring, pointless movies I've ever wasted a night watching. There is little more to the plot than a dude working a crappy job and dealing with a crappy love life. If the filmmakers were attempting to illustrate what a pathetic and soulless decade the 1980's were, job well done, but my guess is they were simply trying to cash in on the success of better written quasi comedies such a Juno and the like. It's been a long time since I've wasted time on a movie that was so boring and pointless. It was billed as a comedy, and as far as laughs go this gets an F-. The acting is mediocre at best, which is really a waste considering the overall talent of the cast. There's not much hope for bringing to life a script that is truly a sh*t sandwich.
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Not my kinda Eighties
ThatDoesntMatter24 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Bland and boring, with good acting by Jesse Alexander, though the plot was just so uninteresting and s l o w .... my god!

Sad and depressing version of the Eighties, I'd choose The Wedding Singer over this any time!!! Gosh, maybe it's because I never smoked pot? Seems like that was paramount for having a good time in this movie...

Most shocking was seeing how one-dimensional Kristen Stewart is...she is playing the same character as in The Messengers and Twilight (I don't feel the need to check out her other movies as well to confirm this further...) - same (missing) facial expressions, same movements, same acting...don't know what to make of it, really...

And do people in Pittsburgh speak without any inflection? Just not the kind of people I find in the least interesting...even if they grow on you a bit in the course of the movie, just not worth watching.

Or only for people who listened to Lou Reed in the Eighties....cybi? - puh-leeeeze, how depressing is that!!!!;-)
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Coming of age in Eighties Pittsburgh
Chris Knipp3 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Greg Mottola, director of the mega-hit Apatow comedy 'Superbad,' has another, less hilarious but much more personal, go at the young American male zeitgeist in 'Adventureland,' which he both wrote and directed this time, and which focuses on a recent college graduate in Pittsburgh in the Reagon era. It's the summer of 1987 (a moment underlined with a rich, sometimes intentionally maddening song soundtrack). Young James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has been accepted at the Columbia journalism school and looks forward to his first trip abroad with a friend. But Lady Luck messes with James. Due to an economic downturn, his dad's suffered a salary cut. His parents not only back out of paying for the Europe jaunt; they won't bankroll lodging in New York for him either. In desperation James looks for summer jobs, but finds that high SAT scores and an honors degree in comparative literature don't even qualify him for manual labor. The choice of last resort to which he falls heir is "games" carnie at a second-rate fairground called Adventureland where showing up sober is the only requirement. It's in this tacky world, of rotting corn dogs, barfing children, threatening contestants and bored young men and women with even more diminished expectations--his coworkers--that James must find (or salvage) love and friendship and hope for the future. And guess what? He does. And, somehow or other, much like the young hero of 'Thumbsucker,' he makes it to New York.

Smart casting and witty writing as well as constant interludes of amusement park atmosphere save this from utter conventionality. Jesse Eisenberg is the cute, skinny young Jewish guy who was Jeff Daniels' hard-to-fool older son in Noah Baumbach's much celebrated 'The Squid and the Whale.' Eisenberg has done lots of things since, but this may be his biggest role so far, the one he was made to play. His James is a virgin with an East Coast Jewish sense of irony. He also has a foolish, if admirable, tendency to always tell the truth. What he's not is a horny dweeb like Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in 'Superbad.' He's chivalrous and articulate--maybe more articulate than he needs to be to get to second base, but also enough to give the audience the feeling of a literary sensibility in play. He's not a hunk like handsome, married loser Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds), the park handyman and a would-be musician who may or may not have played one gig with Lou Reed, but he's much easier to care about. Eisenberg has the mannerisms of intelligent naivety down, and his understated rapid fire delivery is spot on. Whether or not he's meant to be Jewish, the aura of the young Jewish intellectual-to-be surrounds him. He can't describe his journalistic aims without mentioning Charles Dickens' writing about prisons.

The movie, though ostensibly in coming-of-age rather than buddy-picture mode, tries a bit too hard to be gross in the contemporary Apatow manner, to be mainstream I guess, and not hard enough to avoid the standard clichés of the coming-of-age film. 'Adventureland' barely goes anywhere new. But that's not to say that Eisenberg, Kirsten Stewart (heartbreakingly wispy and alluring as James' troubled--and complex--new girlfriend, Em), and a handful of other actors aren't quite charming and watchable--or that the movie doesn't have any clever throwaway lines along with the barf and knee-in-the-balls jokes. The intellectual anchor of the piece is James's bespectacled Adventureland pal Joel (Martin Starr), a nihilistic Slavic Studies major whose idea of how to woo a lady is to give her a paperback copy of Gogol's 'Dead Souls' and explain that the author starved himself to death after writing it. Joel is so much more pessimistic, depressed, and articulate that we see James has a chance of happiness despite his innocence about courtship and increasingly uncertain future.

This is a sweet comedy, and it's nice and very rare to see something from a successful Apatow alumnus that's not about a fat guy who wins the babe while remaining a pothead couch potato. Pot plays a significant role here, but James parcels out his bag judiciously and effectively. At the end while he's lost nearly everything, he's still got his dreams and his love. If that doesn't warm your heart, you're a pretty cool customer.

The failings of 'Adventureland' are obvious. Aside from its lack of surprises, for all its jokes it's not particularly funny (though it also avoids turning too dark). Its amusement park setting is original, but not enough individualized. (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the gung-ho park managers Bobby and Paulette do provide glimpses of comedy, though.) The unappealing, loser parents are a cliché. This isn't earth-shaking or side-splitting stuff and its a bit rough around the edges, but it's true to its (doubtless autobiographical) model, a decent and solid little film that is likely to hold its value.
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brownsworkshop12 April 2009
This movie was slow and boring. I was expecting to like it, even if it wasn't a laugh-out-loud comedy. I like a good coming-of-age story, but I was surprised by how unmoved I was by it. Kristen Stewart's character seemed phlegmatic and depressed. I could not see the appeal of her, except that the main character was inexperienced and didn't know better, but the screenplay wasn't smart enough to know this was the message it was giving, unintentionally. Her character reminded me of Ethan Hawke in "Reality Bites" who was a terrible choice for the main character but the viewer was supposed to find him endearing. Ryan Reynolds was good. I was very disappointed in this movie.
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A Whiny, Hopelessly Immature Coming-of-Age Movie
evanston_dad22 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The current Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen posse of directors/actors/writers have lately made so many movies so quickly about boys becoming men that a mini-genre has developed, complete with its own batch of over-used clichés. "Adventureland," the latest coming-of-age film from Greg Mottola (of "Superbad" fame), is nothing but a collection of the most tired of these clichés applied to a storyline and a group of characters I didn't give a hoot about.

Jesse Eisenberg, a less appealing version of Michael Cera, plays a recent college graduate who sees his dream of attending Columbia University's graduate program crumble when his parents flake out about giving him the money for it. He ends up having to get a (horror of horrors!) summer job at a dreary amusement park called Adventureland. During the summer he falls for a girl that, true to the conventions of the genre, is such a drip we can't imagine what it is he sees in her, and he learns how to stop relying on his parents and make that voyage into adulthood.

Or I guess that's what happens, because at the end he ends up in NYC getting laid by his dream girl. But the coming-of-age part of the film is left terribly vague, and the spoiled privileged kid we get at the film's beginning seems to be pretty much the same spoiled privileged kid we get at the end.

"Adventureland"s biggest failing is that it doesn't poke enough fun at the main character. The filmmakers treat him without a trace of irony; they actually seem to think he deserves our sympathy for having to deal with such horrible parents and for learning life lessons the rest of us learned before we were even out of high school, let alone college. Jesse Eisenberg isn't likable enough to make up for the writer's and director's deficiencies, and I found my patience taxed beyond its limits.

The rest of the movie is poorly cast. Ryan Reynolds shows up as a musician/handyman, despite the fact that he's not remotely believable as either; Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play the husband and wife owners of Adventureland and act like they belong in a completely different movie; and Wendie Malick and Jack Gilpin play our protagonist's parents as one-note caricatures.

What a lame movie.

Grade: C-
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it didn't work for me, then again neither did Super Bad
dbborroughs2 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the directors time at the amusement park located not far from my home this is an okay coming of age film about a kid who's forced to get a job at Adventureland in order to help pay for college. Romance and other adventures are on the menu. Good but not really remarkable film didn't really click with me. Perhaps its the pacing, perhaps its the sense of having seen a good deal of it before, this film just sort of blurred past my eyes. Yes it was nice to see how the games of chance are fixed, and yes some of the emotion between the will they or won't they romantic couple was nicely raw and real, but the rest of it seemed awfully cartoonish. Its not bad, its just not quite up to some of the rave reviews that some reviewers and some friends gave it. (Then again what do I know I didn't like the directors Super Bad.)
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In the 80s, dudes in BMWs, not Dusters, got the babes.
sfride671 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I thought the premise of this was fun--college-age employees making the best of their lame jobs at an aging amusement park. And there was a bit of that in this movie and it was funny and reminiscent of that kind of work--the kind that builds character, or whatever. But what really dragged this movie down for me was all the drama over the relationships in the life of Kristin Stewart's character. She hated her father for dating a woman she hated. Well, so what, move on, girl. Parents are free to choose their partners and children don't really get a vote in the matter, no matter the age or maturity of the children at the time of the parent's selection. And then, and remember this was supposed to the Eighties when people of that age revered all things YUPPIE, her character was sleeping with a guy who drove a DUSTER. Did any college babe in the Eighties do that? Maybe, but it took more imagination for me to believe that than it did for me to accept that young Captain Kirk could be exiled to the frozen tundra of nearest planet and conveniently land within walking distance to Spock's cave in that Star Trek movie. And the irony is that if they movie had been topical, not based in '87, it would have been understandable why she gravitated toward a dude with a Duster. Now it is a vintage muscle car and probably a chick magnet.
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lndkramer20 April 2009
I've seen plenty of ppl go over why this movie wasn't good, but I'm just so bothered by all the ppl who loved it that I had to add my opinion in.

I'd like to start by saying that this movie is nothing like the classic Superbad. Only thing in common is the Greg Motolla the director, Bill Hader, and Jesse Eisenberg acting just like Michael Cera. Almost too much like him. I can't figure out how he was getting that much action. Weird.

The movie is not funny. No laughs, just one or two chuckles. Very misleading. Just like Nick and Norah. Boring. An hour and a half that felt like three hours. No suspense or wondering because you can see exactly what is about to happen. Dumb cop-out ending. And they were at an amusement park. That seemed like a cool concept, but nothing was really done with it. Ryan Reynolds I think was also a little out of place. Not bad acting, just not him maybe. There were even scenes when peoples hair was different between shots. This is a B movie at best. Which is not a bad thing, but it doesn't live up to the hype behind Superbad or any other teen film we've seen lately. Don't bother with it. Wait for Funny People with Sandler and Rogen to come out, or go see I Love You Man.

By the way, why the hell do ppl think that Superbad takes place in the 80s???? Did they have Nextel phones or porn sites back then?? Plz pay attention when you watch a movie you guys.
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Not a comedy
sw_ds-37 September 2009
If you are into daytime soap operas, then you may be interested in this movie. They play heavily on the fact that it is from the same creators of Superbad, but the movie is in no way a comedy. I failed to find any part of the movie a comedy, in fact I had to turn it off about 30 minutes in, because I felt it painful to go any further with no comedy aspect to it. Perhaps this movie could be considered a satire of sorts. But, if you are looking for a standard, funny, comedy look elsewhere. However, it seemed in my short preview, that if you are into the 80s, and into teenage drama movies, then perhaps this movie would be for you.
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Boring and Cliché
B_D15 April 2009
I'm not the type of person to walk out of a movie - in fact, I've never done it - but Adventureland made it a challenge to stay in the theater in a way that few films do.

Let me preface this by saying that I hadn't seen any previews or heard much about Adventureland, so I wasn't expecting a Superbad-esquire romp like many other reviewers apparently did. I didn't know whether I was going for a comedy, a drama, a coming-of-age flick, or what. I had an open mind, willing to accept whatever I saw, and yet I was incredibly disappointed and confused by the end of it.

Adventureland suffers from having an incredibly cliché plot, the standard awkward boy meets troubled girl fare that we've all seen hundreds of times before. From early on in the movie, I was able to figure out exactly where it was going, and at no point was I thrown for a loop. Everything proceeds according to genre conventions. There is nothing new or unexpected here. Additionally, there is a strange fatalistic tone that pervades the movie that manages to be overly serious and depressing without being at all deep.

None of the main characters are in any way likable or believable. A large portion of the plot revolves around the difficulty that Jesse Eisenberg's character (James) has expressing his affection for Kristen Stewart's character (Em) and attempting to make the relationship work. I guess this was supposed to be a meaningful story about two misunderstood college kids trying to reach out to each other and looking for love in all the wrong place, blah blah blah. Instead, James comes off as a boring, awkward guy who becomes infatuated with the first girl who gives him any attention; Em never rises above our first impression of her as a cookie-cutter troubled teen who keeps James around for his good weed connection. Because of this, I couldn't bring myself to care about what happened to either of them.

Too much of this movie seems to be an attempt by the forty-something director Greg Mottola to prove that he can still seem cool to today's youth. The characters are constantly smoking weed (okay, we get it, they're cool, introspective kids!) and dropping stereotypical lines to bring attention to it: "This is some GREAT WEED James" or "Man I am SO HIGH." For some reason this is set in the 1980s, I guess for some sort of faux-cool retro feeling, or maybe just so people can namedrop Lou Reed every ten seconds. Unfortunately, the setting was terribly executed: half of the characters are wearing trendy American Apparel fashion, and Yo La Tengo's recognizably modern score is jarring when juxtaposed with famous 80's tunes.

Overall, Adventureland fails on almost every level. The comedy? Terrible. The drama? Played out. The characters? Boring. The acting? Meh. The setting? Poorly executed. Avoid this movie, I don't know how it is getting such good reviews.
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Mottola strikes one from the heart.
Spikeopath19 September 2009
It's 1987 and James Brennan is home for the summer after earning himself a degree in Renaissance Studies. Which unsurprisingly isn't any use to him when trying to gain employment in this part of Pittsburg. Which is now a problem since his planned trip to Europe has fell by the wayside due to his father's enforced unemployment. So thus he finds himself working at Adventureland, a rusting time warp amusement park where only odd balls and idiots appear to frequent. But here James will make friends, learn life lessons and maybe just find true love?

Be under no illusions, Adventureland is no teen sex comedy reliant on crude jokes and cringe slap-stick moments to get its humour. Which as it's brought to us by the director of Superbad may come as something of a surprise. Greg Mottola is the said director, who here has crafted an ode to his own teenage strife's concerning first jobs and first loves. Tho not really offering anything new as such, I mean the old "summer I came of age" film is hardly new is it? Mottola has however managed to blend youthful spirits with a serious kink and nicely cloak it in a bittersweet 80s haze.

Tho some parts are clearly aimed at the guffaw teen viewers, awkward erections and friends who punch you in the testicles-tee hee hee, Adventureland feels, and is, a subtle film made by someone who clearly lived it. The care and thought that Mottola has put into it benefits the cast as much as it does the viewers. Jesse Eisenberg {James} is a splendid bit of casting, almost poetically slow, he nicely plays it to have the upcoming tribulations totally believable. Enter Kristen Stewart as Em, pretty and smartly essaying a girl, soon to be woman, trying to make sense in her off kilter world. Her scenes with both Eisenberg and the buff Ryan Reynolds, in a role that takes some skill to get as right as he does, are the highlights of the piece. While Martin Starr is the other performance of note as the pipe smoking intellectual, Joel.

What youngsters that I know who have seen the film have had less than favourable reactions to it. This can probably be put down to two things. One is that the expectation of another Superbad-a-like comedy has not been met. Two is that, you know what folks? Mottola hasn't made this for kids, he's made it for those who were kids once in a decade not so very long ago...... 8.5/10
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day-ja-vu14 September 2009
I am really disappointed in this movie. Eisenberg was great in it and I adored him as James, but his character developed into a weakling. Stewart's character continues to feel sorry for herself and doesn't change at all. I can understand the situations occurring but the reactions and the relationships are very unrealistic.

Overall, this movie gave off a very "highschool drama" love triangle scandal. Who is sleeping with who and who wants to sleep with who.

If you want to watch a chick flick dramaedy I'd watch Sex in the City but I guess "Sexventureland" (Adventureland) will give you that fix as well.

If your looking for laid back comedy look else where.
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