Adventureland (15)



Comedy (2009)
106mins US

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Margarita Levieva, Ryan Reynolds
Director: Greg Mottola
Writer(s): Greg Mottola
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

College graduate James Brennan has big and very expensive dreams in 1987 of taking a summer vacation around Europe before heading off to university. His financially choked parents soon deal him a large dose of reality and James reluctantly takes a low paid summer job at the Adventureland theme park, where he falls head over heels in love with beautiful co-worker Emily Lewin.

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LondonNet Film Review
Adventureland

Growing pains leave bruises rather than scars in writer-director Greg Mottola's nostalgic coming-of-age tale set at a Pittsburgh theme park in the summer of 1987...

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart on the set of ADVENTURELAND. Photo Credit: Abbot Genser. © 2008 Miramax Films Corp. All Rights Reserved.There are echoes of Juno and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, albeit without such snappy dialogue, as the characters of Adventureland amble along without any sense of urgency as life unfolds around them. Most of these hormone-addled teenagers accomplish very little over the course of the film, but refreshingly they are a largely likable bunch, even one young man whose sole purpose in life seems to be punching other boys in the crotch. "What was that?" a girl asks one victim, doubled over in pain from the swift blow to his nether regions. "Just my life," he replies through gritted teeth. Mottola's affection for the era is evident, right down to the rock-heavy soundtrack, which swaggers to Judas Priest, Whitesnake and The Velvet Underground plus an occasional foray into Falco's dancefloor anthem Rock Me Amadeus.

College graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has big and very expensive dreams of taking a summer vacation around Europe before heading off to university in New York to become a journalist. His financially-choked parents (Jack Gilpin, Wendie Malick) soon deal him a large dose of reality, and James reluctantly takes a low-paid job at the local Adventureland theme park run by Paulette (Kristen Wiig) and Bobby (Bill Hader). The new-boy is assigned to the Games section and he nervously copes with cheating customers, almost ending up in a brawl over a stuffed panda. Thankfully, beautiful and savvy co-worker Emily Lewin (Kristen Stewart) defuses the situation and James quickly falls for her pot-smoking slacker rather than resident sex bomb Lisa P (Margarita Levieva). Unbeknown to James, Em is embroiled in a secret affair with married park handyman Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who is a hit with all of the female customers. Buoyed by the encouragement of park colleague Joel (Martin Starr), James nervously pursues the object of his affections, setting himself up for potential heartbreak as the summer comes to an end.

Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader on the set of ADVENTURELAND. © 2007 Miramax Films. All Rights Reserved.Adventureland is a smartly written and well-acted portrait of youth on the cusp of adulthood, underscored with wry humour. Eisenberg is an endearing high achiever forced to slum it for the summer. His burgeoning relationship with Stewart develops organically, interspersed with raucous comic interludes involving other members of the park, particularly the double-act of Wiig and Hader. A scene in which Bobby shows shy, retiring James how to whip up the crowd on the horseracing game is a hoot. Mottola, who directed Superbad, demonstrates a lighter touch here as James learns the most important lesson of all at the park: life isn't fair and nice guys are lucky to finish at all, let alone in first place.

- Kim Hu


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