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A movie released April 03, 2009

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An enjoyable look back at an era past.

  • Apr 3, 2009
  • by
Pros: Good cast and premise.

Cons: Ending was a bit to open for me.

The Bottom Line: An enjoyable mix of romance and comedy.

The summer of 1987 holds some special memories for me as that was the year that I graduated from high school and set about my college studies. In the summer before the start of classes, I had to learn to manage finances, become independent as much as I could and that relationships in the real world are much different than they were in school

As nice as it would have been to spend that entire summer enjoying the sun and activities and enjoying the abundance of movies, music, and video games, the demands of work and school had to be factored in as I strove to find a balance.

In the new movie “Adventureland” Writer/Director Greg Mottola has given the audience a winning mix of romance and humor that was inspired by his adventures in a Long Island amusement park in 1987.
When recent college graduate James (Jesse Eisenberg), learns that his plans to spend his summer in Europe have fallen through, he is forced to look for work in order to help fund his pending year of graduate studies thanks to his father’s recent demotion.

Despite his degree, James is unable to find work due to his lack of experience and soon finds himself resorting to working as a games operator in the local theme park Adventureland in the Pittsburgh suburbs.

As demeaning as James finds his job, he does strike up friendships with many of his co-workers including an attractive girl named Em (Kristen Stewart) and the older ride mechanic named Mike (Ryan Reynolds).

James is popular at work for his easygoing manner and the fact that he has pot to share makes him go over well with his co-workers who look for an escape from the drudgery of their jobs and the array of park goers who help make their lives difficult.

As the summer unfolds, Em and James become closer which is further complicated by the issues in the lives which stem largely from unhappy home lives and uncertainty over their futures. When other factors come into play, love triangles form which causes James to step out from his comfort zone and take stock of his life, his future, and what truly is important to him.

“Adventureland” is not a comedy nor is it a romance, but rather it is a nostalgic look back at a summer long ago, and how the events that unfolded helped shaped the lives of one man and his friends. There are some funny moments in the film but they are secondary to the stories of growth, pain, and development that mark the final steps from youth into adulthood.

Stewart and Eisenberg have a good chemistry with one another and they portray James and Em with an earnest and honest frailty that makes them come across as real people. They are not the glamorous kids that are so often featured in films with front line wardrobe, plenty of cash, and few if any concerns. They are real people who have issues that they deal with and insecurities about themselves and their futures, and are slow to let their guards down.

The look and sounds of the era are dead on and include an abundance of late 80’s tunes, so much so that a character takes the time to joke about one song being played numerous times a day.
While some may want a bit more closure or humor in the film, it is an enjoyable look at a era gone by and is filled with many moments that viewers of any age will relate to.


Movie Mood: None of the Above
Viewing Method: Press Screening
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Ending

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More Adventureland reviews
review by . January 19, 2011
After watching Adventureland's promotional trailer many moons ago, nothing more was expected than a sex crazed comedic film based around an amusement park. But it isn't. Jesse Eisenburg, who plays James Brennan, maybe perceived as a Michael Cera clone, created from a factory that dispenses awkward teenagers desperately seeking to lose their virginity. But he isn't. Adventureland is a coming of age tale that is supported by deftly sculpted characters directed by Greg Mottola, director …
review by . January 22, 2011
Listless teens of the 80's rejoice! Adventureland is a wonderful dramedy about coming-of-age set in a carnival. The two leading stars are the likeable Jesse Eisenberg and the abhorrent Kristen Stewart, as well as supporting turns for Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. While it is more of a love story than a comedy, it is still quite witty and it will please teenagers and adults alike, just like the consensus says. Adventureland is by no means the best movie I've seen, but its definitely …
review by . August 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I came into this movie with low expectations... it was my wife's turn to pick and usually the movies she picks are god awful and this seemed like it would just be another movie about whiny teenagers and their non-existent problems. I was kind of right, it was about whiny young adults and their problems that are much more real. It is about the kid from Zombieland after just graduating from college and being dumped by his girlfriend ready to move on with his life only to find out due to a change …
review by . June 19, 2010
The Adventure of Youth
Without the benefit (or detriment, depending on your angle) of having seen any flashy previews for Greg Mottola's Adventureland, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. My date was going on my word that it would be good, and I was going on a glowing review in the Buffalo News, a typically unreliable source as far as I’m concerned. But still, I had faith. And for once, praise God, I was not short-changed in any way.      Adventureland …
review by . September 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
More drama than Comedy. But still enjoyable
   I watched this expecting a comedy but got a Teen Romance drama instead. While Adventureland has its moments I was a little dissapointed by the lack of funny. But not enough to not enjoy this movie.   When a collage graduate has to cancel his dream vacation and get a job at a tacky amusement park he slowly begins to realise that life has away of turning tge tables on you sometimes for the better.      The acting in Adventureland was top notch. By the middle …
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Really didn't like.
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #112
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie


Adventureland is a 2009 comedy-drama written and directed by Greg Mottola, director of Superbad.  It's 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 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 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, whose complicated past proves irresistible to his repressed psyche.
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Director: Greg Mottola
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: April 03, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1hr 46min
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