1987. James (Jesse Eisenberg) has is life planned out: First, a trip to Europe with his best friend. Then university and becoming a journalist. Unfortunately that’s when his dad gets “transferred” and has suddenly less money. Which means that James not only can’t go to Europe but has to work to make to university at all. And since he has no work experience whatsoever, he ends up at Adventureland, a rather run-down amusement park where he meets not only new friends like Joel (Martin Starr), but also a new love in Em (Kristen Stewart).
Since I’m often disappointed with Indie comedies, I didn’t expect much from Adventureland. But it was actually extremely sweet, funny and (least surprising) very well-acted. The script was wonderful and the movie is definitely a keeper.
Adventureland pulls off what so many indie comedies try, and fail. That is to have a male lead who is a little self-involved, who is a bit of a dork, but who you nevertheless like. That’s partly due to the script. The dialogues that work really well and the usual teenage-angsty-deepness-moments are few and slightly ironic. But it’s also Jesse Eisenberg’s achievement, who was really fantastic.
The cast in general was really good. Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader… Ryan Reynolds doesn’t get to do much more than be pretty, but he does it very well. [And I really liked that he wasn’t that much of an asshole. I mean, he was, but not in the overdrawn, over-emphasised way characters like this usually are.]
Did I mention that I really liked the script? Mottola is good as a director, but he’s brilliant as a a script writer. Again, the dialogues were wonderful, but the characters were even better. [Except for Matt Bush’s Frigo. He was a touch too annoying. Though it was almost worth it for the “just my life” line.] And the cherry on top of it all, it had some nice feminist moments.
The soundtrack is nice and really transports you back to the 80s, even though at the same time, the film feels oddly current. I kept forgetting that it was set in the 80s, maybe because amusement parks tend to have a slightly-out-of-time feel to them anyway.
Summary: Definitely recommended.
*I swear it was a coincidence that I saw so many Ryan Reynolds movies these past couple of weeks.