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From the director of Superbad comes Adventureland, a smart, witty comedy we can all relate to. When James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has to cancel his dream summer vacation and make some money for grad school, the only job he can get is at Adventureland, a tacky amusement park where the games are rigged and the rides make you hurl. But it's where he meets Em (Kristen Stewart, Twilight), and his rollercoaster ride to nowhere turns into the best summer ever.
A sweet and slap-happy mix of indie coming-of-age drama and Judd Apatow’s scatological but heartfelt manchild comedies, Greg Mottola’s Adventureland is a winning look at the pleasures and frustrations of dead-end jobs and teenage kicks as viewed through a filter of mid-‘80s pop culture. The underutilized and always watchable Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale) is a sheltered, introspective New York college grad who discovers that his parents’ financial woes will not only quash his dream of a summer in Europe (to enjoy its more “sexually permissive” nations) but require a move to Pittsburgh, where he lands a job at a dilapidated amusement park. There, he’s thrown in with a motley crew of eccentrics, small-town types and a few genuine free spirits, most notably co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart), whose complicated past proves irresistible to his repressed psyche. Mottola, who directed Superbad and episodes of the well-loved Freaks and Geeks, and who once worked in a similar park as a teen, doesn’t shy from the crude laughs that make Apatow’s features so popular, but he tempers it with a wistful tone and layered characters that hew closer to his earliest work, The Daytrippers. Though ill-matched at first, Eisenberg and Stewart make a likable on-screen couple, and they’re well-supported by a terrific cast that includes such die-hard scene-stealers as Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the park’s offbeat owners, Martin Starr as a Russian lit aficionado, and Ryan Reynolds as a former town tamer, now reduced to working as the park’s handyman. A soundtrack performed by underground faves Yo La Tengo and filled with a smart mix of hip cuts (Hüsker Dü, the New York Dolls, the Replacements) and period faves (Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”) underscores the film’s blend of tentative emotions and broad laughs. -- Paul Gaita
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Top customer reviews
Adventureland is the rare film set in the 80's that gets it right. Instead of creating a film where the 80's jokes are forced and the 4th wall is broken for cheap laughs, the end result is a film that just happens to be set in the 80's rather than a film that forces you back into the decade of pastel kicking and screaming. Here you have a coming of age story that most of us can relate to, regardless of what decade we grew up in, that is a successful film on the whole. Everyone will recognize the Adventureland amusement park as standing in for the local version they grew up with, and many of the characters will remind the viewer of people they grew up with.
This is perhaps Kristen Stewart's best performance in a film to date. Here she shows that given the right materials and actors to work with, she is capable of pulling off a good performance. Stewart is no different from any other actor. Sometimes she is the victim of weak material (Twilight) or otherwise puts in a poor performance (Snow White and the Huntsman).
Ryan Reynolds does a good of playing the cool older friend, who has a bit of manipulation and deceit in him. A pre-Bridesmaids Kristen Wiig has a nice smaller role. Jesse Eisenberg basically plays himself.
Adventureland is a film that will evolve in the near future into cult status, if it is not already there. It may be a bit of a stretch to say that it is the 'Dazed and Confused' of the 2000's, but it is close. 'Games, Games, Games' tshirts are available on the web.
Minutes after you watch Adventureland you will be asking yourself 'Wasn't that guy the nerd from Freaks and Geeks?'
The acting in the movie is top notch. Even Kristen Stewart who has a tendency to be very wooden and monotone does a good job. Bill Hader and Kristen Wig are great in their roles, as do the rest of the cast. The film is set in the late 80s so those who grew up at that time will also appreciate the soundtrack as they came up with a lot of old 80s songs that will bring back memories for those old enough to remember that time.
The movie looks and sounds great on Blu Ray, although it is not really the kind of movie that you necessarily get that much more on Blu Ray as opposed to DVD. If you are into coming of age movies, this one is definitely worth a look as long as you do not expect Superbad or American Pie level comedy.
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