“Adventureland” is the latest Greg Mottola film. Those words alone seem to be enough to at least get an audience of students across the planet’s attention.
Mottola is the director of “Superbad,” one of the better comedies in recent memory and one that plenty of rowdy high school and college students still crack up over.
The marketing directors of this movie obviously had the same idea, as the words “from the director of ‘Superbad'” headlined every trailer, poster, and commercial associated with the film. Obviously, this raises expectations for the film, as dedicated fans of Mottola won’t stand for a sub par film associated with his name.
Luckily, “Adventureland” more than lives up to the high expectations set by its fans. Set in the summer of 1987, the film deals with the highly educated but socially awkward college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg). Brennan’s financial situation forces him to take a job at a local, rundown amusement park.
While working at “Adventureland,” James makes friends, gets annoyed by customers, and eventually meets love interest Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart), a confident, cute, and seemingly available co-worker. Most of the story centers on Em and James’ relationship, and the complications that come along with it.
“Complications” include Em’s affair with another married and extremely obnoxious maintenance man (Ryan Reynolds), James’ awkward nature, and “Adventureland” itself, which is a place of constant annoyance for every staff member.
This may be disappointing or refreshing, but “Adventureland” is nothing like “Superbad.”
“Adventureland” has a much more sentimental tone, a completely different setting, and in some cases downright depressing (but perfectly appropriate) moments.
Stewart does a fantastic job of making the audience forget about the whiny, needy and annoying character she played in “Twilight.” Stewart’s performance is believable and entertaining, which is probably the best summary for this movie.
Everyone at some point has had his or her own personal “Adventureland.” Everyone has worked that one junk job where they had a crush on a co-worker, a psychotic boss, and customers that made them want to throw knives. This believable quality is what sets “Adventureland” apart from, and above, “Superbad.”
Eisenberg and Stewart are perfect compliments to each other as well, and the on screen chemistry with the two translates into some great scenes. Although Reynolds’ character isn’t exactly the most upstanding guy, he is not a diabolical villain either. Since it is easy to identify with the characters, it is easy to appreciate the movie.
The acting is good, the story is believable, the setting is realistic, and the comedy is worth more than just a few chuckles. So where does this movie go horribly wrong?
To be perfectly honest, nowhere.
The only gripe may be the ‘80s rock soundtrack. While it will appeal to the fans of slightly lesser known music, those yearning for the classic mainstream music will be left disappointed.
To skip on such a great movie due to annoyance over the soundtrack, or any other reason, is ridiculous. “Adventureland” has all the makings of a comedy that will be around for a while, and passing on it will certainly be missing out on some of the best the theater has to offer today.