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Adventureland: Dead-End Jobs Never Looked So Fun

The director of Adventureland, Greg Mottola, is no stranger to the Summer comedy. His last film, the funny (and sometimes vulgar) Superbad, was a big hit with audiences and followed two high school buddies through one crazy night at the end of their senior year. Adventureland follows a recent college grad through one crazy Summer, so it's no surprise that the director's movies would be compared to each other.

However, now that I've seen the movie I take issue with the recent ads that go something like, "If you loved Superbad you'll really love this one!" I actually think this movie has more in common with the likes of American Graffiti in terms of capturing the cultural milieu of a generation, and maybe even Juno for the warm way it approaches post-adolescent angst.

Maybe my comparisons won't sell millions of tickets but I loved this movie, and I think that in addition to laughing a lot you'll likely leave the theater in a happy haze of nostalgia.

Jesse Eisenberg plays James Brennan, a recent college graduate whose plans to travel abroad over the Summer before heading to grad school in New York fall through. Forced to move home to the 'burbs of Pittsburgh, James takes a job at a craptastic theme park where he befriends other young employees, like the cynical, Russian-lit enthusiast Joel (played wonderfully by Martin Starr) and a college student home for the Summer named Em (Kristen Stewart).

I enjoyed Eisenberg in The Squid and the Whale so it's interesting to see him in an even more grown-up role like this one. He and Michael Cera have a similar gawky cuteness to them, but where Cera's characters tend to mumble and clam up in the face of a socially nerve-racking situation, Eisenberg's James is quite verbal (he wants to be a writer) and is often guilty of the over-share. He's got eyes for Em and fills in Stewart's cool silences with a lot of cringe-worthy — but endearing — chatter about what he's trying to do with his life. It's charming to see him stumble his way through a romantic relationship with Em, and when it comes to his future he vacillates between over-confidence and sheer terror at the unknown. His journey is not only entertaining but totally relatable.

While it's not perfect, there's so much good stuff going on in this movie it's hard to fit it all into one little post. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are predictably hilarious as the amusement park's managers (Hader is rocking an awesome mustache, too), as are a lot of the douchey park-goers. I like that Em isn't just the pretty, cool girl at the park, but comes with her own set of complicated family issues and relationships that give her depth and make her love story with James all the more compelling. Their chemistry together is another positive that can't be denied.

This coming-of-age story set in the '80s will probably make many folks feel nostalgic for their youths, but I think more than anything, the movie nails what it is to be on the brink of adulthood, working a dead-end job. I've worked my fair share of weird jobs in high school and in college (and post-college if I'm being honest), and the great thing about Adventureland is that it makes me remember the positive side of that time of life, before I had things even remotely figured out. It makes me recall how free and innocent it was, despite all the anxiety.

Photos courtesy of Miramax

Join The Conversation
nancita nancita 8 years
I just saw this movie this weekend and thought it perfectly captured that weird limbo between college and adulthood when you are living in your hometown and not sure who to be. Plus, unlike many movies of this ilk, the dialogue was very real and not too precious.
AdriNicTrax AdriNicTrax 8 years
Awesome movie. I loved it!
Advah Advah 8 years
You guys are killing me. :( My flatmate and I *cannot* wait to see that film, but it's not out in the UK until July!!
emalove emalove 8 years
I had to come back and comment on how GOOD this movie is...I knew I'd love it, but it surpassed my already high expectations! I think it's going to be one of those sleeper indie films that a lot of people don't pay attention to or don't get around to seeing in the theater, but really, they should!!! It was the cutest movie I've seen in a very long time. The casting is excellent, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Just got the soundtrack today too!
kmckay kmckay 8 years
definitely entertaining! and ryan reynolds is just so hot, isn't he?!?! he looks good in any decade
ansoliz ansoliz 8 years
I saw it alone yesterday and I loved it. I soaked in every awkward moment and fell for James. There is way too much going on to pin point favorite moments. It's a wonderful movie. If you feel nothing for this film after you give it a chance, then I am sorry to inform you that you have no soul. Good luck!
PiNkY-PiNk PiNkY-PiNk 8 years
I really want to see this movie. great review! thanks!
emalove emalove 8 years
I'm SO excited to see this husband and I have been looking forward to it for awhile now! I knew I'd like it the minute I first saw a preview.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 8 years
My boyfriend...who, um, graduated HS in 1988, complained that everyone in the movie was dressed like it was the late 70s. Great soundtrack though.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Loved the review, Buzz. I've been looking forward to seeing this for awhile, especially since it was filmed at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh--one of my favorite amusement parks since childhood.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i can't wait to see this movie this weekend. it looks really funny and anything with RR in it is a good movie :)
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
Nitachequita — I loved Frigo and Lisa P! I totally had a Frigo next door growing up. I feel like everyone has a Frigo in their youth.
Nitachequita Nitachequita 8 years
Once again, spot on review Buzz. I saw a sneak preview last night, and Le Romantique, give it a shot. The ads pushing the comedic aspects and the Superbad link are giving the wrong impression of the movie. In fact, the first 15 minutes or so, I was thinking "this is the most boring comedy ever" but once I realized that it's actually more of drama and shifted gears I really ended up enjoying it. Love Jesse and Hader. It was killing me trying to figure out where I had seen Frigo (Cingular rollover ads) and Lisa P (The Invisible) during the movie!
le-romantique le-romantique 8 years
These types of movies do not impress me or entertain me at all... and its unfortunate for me, because they keep making them and they keep getting very popular- which generally means there will be many many more... oh well.
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