By Sandra Kraisirideja
“Adventureland” is a thoughtful drama involving a group of young adults working together in the summer of 1987 at a rundown amusement park, hence the movie’s title,. The movie succeeds in style and substance much more than “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” which tried to tackle similar themes of finding your first love and grappling with increasing responsibility as a young adult.
Written and directed by Greg Mottola, who last helmed the enormously successful comedy, “Superbad,” “Adventureland” captures that last summer where the shift to adulthood can no longer be ignored.
The main character, James Brennan, (Jesse Eisenberg), has recently graduated from college and is looking forward to spending the summer in Europe with his friends until his parents tell him his father’s recent demotion means there won’t be enough money to fund his trip. Eisenberg fits the role nicely, although it’s easy to see how Michael Cera, who starred in “Superbad” and worked with Mottola on “Arrested Development,” could easily slip into the part as well.
Forced to get a summer job, but with no discernable job skills, James finds himself running games in the Midway at Adventureland, which looks like its heyday has long since passed.
Run by a quirky husband and wife, played by “Saturday Night Live” alums Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig, Adventureland’s other employees include a handsome mechanic-musician, played by Ryan Reynolds, who claims to have jammed with Lou Reed, a darkly troubled beauty played by Kristen Stewart, a sexy blonde temptress played by Margarita Levieva from “Vanished” and a dorky, long-haired romantic played by Martin Starr.
A fan of the movie posted on imdb.com that Mottola is the next John Hughes, the writer-director whose movies epitomized teen angst in the ‘80s. “Adventureland” certainly demonstrates Mottola’s ability to portray the confusion, awkwardness and emotional struggles of young adults. It’s not as memorable as Hughes’ works but it stands well on its own merit.