In the summer of 1987 recent college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) resorts to taking a nowhere summer job at his local amusement park. The plan is to save up to get started at Journalism School in New York. Surprisingly, it is the perfect place to prepare him for the real world. Besides, there he meets alluring (but attached) Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart), who is struggling with her own problems.
Review by Louise Keller:
She is bewitched by a vampire in Twilight and here Kristen Stewart takes a shine to a nerdy would-be writer she meets on their summer job at Adventureland. It is yet another impressive performance from 19 year old Stewart, who just shines as brightly here as she embarks on an emotional journey with another troubled soul. Her journey is matched by Jesse Eisenberg's protagonist James, who like the uncool, unworldly William from Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, has plenty of living, learning and growing up to do. Greg Mottola's auto-biographical coming of age story has plenty of heart and although the elements of a first-love plot with all its complications are not new, the script is a good one with detailed, compelling characterisations. The crassness of Adventureland is a cover for the hidden dreams of the excess-loving teens who work there. Stewart and Eisenberg are strong central leads and much of the satisfaction of our journey in this enticing film, comes from our involvement and resulting angst in the minutiae of every day life.
When we first meet Eisenberg's tousled haired virgin James, his dreams have just been dashed. He has been dumped by his new girlfriend and his dreams of going to Europe after graduation fade when his parents' financial situation changes. New York Journalism School seems far away and James' self-esteem is at an all-time low when the only summer job he can score is in the dreaded Games section of fun-fair Adventureland. Surrounded by laughing plastic, gaping-mouthed clowns with and giant, gaudy fake bananas with googly eyes, James begins his coming of age. And then he meets Stewart's soulful Em, who does not want for anything financially, but who needs to get out of her father's house where her obnoxious stepmother rules. But there are complications: Em already has a secret relationship with the married, handsome, smooth-talking and desirable Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds, well cast). And James doesn't know about that - yet.
Much of the film's appeal lies in the relationships between James and his gawky friends. Friends like Martin Starr's Joel, the bespectacled, Russian literature loving, Slovak language specialist, and Bill Hader's hilarious odd-ball fun-park manager Bobby. James' initial popularity is almost entirely prompted by the stash of weed he brings with him, including his date with the sexy It Girl, Lisa P (Margarita Levieva). The humour is laid back and subtle and there's a splendid collection of songs that aptly describe key moments in our lives. The mark of a good film is one that extends beyond its target market, as in this case; it's not only the teen market that will be well satisfied by the journey.
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CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Bill Hader, Margarita Levieva, Martin Starr, Michael Zegen, Matt Bush, Kelsey Ford
PRODUCER: Ted Hope, Anne Carey, Sidney Kimmel
DIRECTOR: Greg Mottola
SCRIPT: Greg Mottola
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Terry Stacey
EDITOR: Anne McCabe
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Beatrice
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 4, 2009