An honest and personal story, Adventureland comes from the director of Superbad, but don’t let that fool you. Although advertised as such, this is not the raunchy foul-mouthed comedy full of drinking and smoking pot you may come to expect.
Don’t get me wrong; there is plenty of foul-mouthed comedy to be had here along with drinking and smoking pot. And yes, it is about a young man who happens to be a virgin seeking a girl during a summer break from school while partying with goofy friends. Sound clichéd enough for you? What separates this movie from the likes of Superbad, American Pie, and other rated R young adult comedies is that it takes itself a little more seriously. It’s down to earth. There is a relatable story being told. If you’ve ever worked a minimum wage job with almost no real responsibility this movie will take you back. Back to the days when minimum wage was good enough and your coworkers became your crew and hanging out with them became your world.
James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network) has just graduated from college and as a graduation present had expected to spend the summer traveling through Europe before attending graduate school at Columbia University. However, due to the economy at the time his father was reassigned to a different position, causing him to take a pay cut. His parents can no longer pay for his Eurotrip let alone Columbia. He is now forced to get a summer job if he wants to still go to grad school.
He lands a deadbeat job at a nearby amusement park called Adventureland where he meets a group of friends, one of which is Em (Kristen Stewart, Twilight). We see their relationship develop. Em is a ‘one-of-the-guys’ type girl. More chill, easy to get along with, and not really considered the hot chick all the guys want. In fact, the hot chick is Lisa P., another coworker at Adventureland who tempts James away from Em. However, she has her dirty little secret, Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds, Van Wilder) an older married man who she’s been hooking up with even before James started working there. It is this love diamond that fuels the story of Adventureland.
Following up from Superbad, I really like director Greg Mottola’s approach to this movie. Targeted for the same demographic, he doesn’t make it as wild and outrageous of a story as his previous film; it is a story a lot of people can identify with. You feel for James when his plans are ruined, but it allows him to cross paths with Em. Em also has things going on in her life that she struggles to deal with. These things cause her to be reserved and it is hard for her to open up to James so quickly. Even Lisa P. and Mike Connell aren’t characters you hate because Mottola portrays them as genuine people. This is unlike most other movies where the character in the way of relationship being formed is usually some annoying arrogant boyfriend or girlfriend. This makes it easier for the audience to accept the fact that they wind up getting dumped at the end. Here, though, Mottola shows us that they make mistakes and have their own issues going on, but they are not bad people.
I like that this movie takes place in the 80′s. There is no real reason for it to and it could have just as easily been rewritten to take place in present day, but I like the time component.
I also found it interesting that although it is pointed out early on in the movie that James is a virgin, losing his virginity is not a driving force in this story like it is in other movies of this genre. He explains that he is a right-person-right-time kind of guy and he just hasn’t found that person. This character trait is rare in movies.
The rest of the characters are quirky and fun to watch. This includes James and Em’s parents, the rest of the Adventureland crew, and most notably the managers; Bobby and Paulette (Bill Hader, Superbad and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids). The cast is a great mix. James’ parents play off each other very well. Each character of the Adventureland crew has their own style that they bring to the table. Hader and Wiig are just as hysterical as you would expect from these Saturday Night Live gurus.
There was something glaring to me that seemed overlooked despite being so obvious. James is told that his parents can no longer afford to pay for graduate school at Columbia University. His parents suggest he get a job to pay for it if that is something he still wants to pursue and James is supposed to be a very smart kid. I mean, he did get accepted to Columbia. I just didn’t get why he thought, along with his parents, that working at Adventureland would be the way he could pay for it. He is clearly making minimal pay there and it is only for one summer. The math just doesn’t add up.
Adventureland really takes you back to the good old days of life when you had no real responsibility – working a job where qualifications are not needed, hanging out with your coworkers until the late hours, and then doing it all again the next day. This movie encapsulates that slice of life while showcasing a charming and enjoyable boy-meets-girl love story.
-It’s funny that Jesse Eisenberg followed Adventureland with Zombieland. What is the luck of that?
-Jesse Eisenberg’s character, James, tells Em that he wants to go to Columbia for grad school to become a journalist. When asked why, he explains that in that field you really need to be exposed to that network of people. He later goes on to play Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network which takes place at Harvard and is also an Ivy League school. Interestingly enough, in Zombieland Eisenberg also says, “You want to know the best thing about Z-land? No- no Facebook status updates. You know, Rob Curtis is gearing up for Friday. Who cares?” Talk about foreshadowing.
Thanks for stopping by!