Monday, September 21, 2009


I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and Adventureland fills the bill. I hadn't read any reviews or seen any trailers, but someone mentioned that he enjoyed it. So I took a look, and I'm glad I did.

It's 1987. James (Jesse Eisenberg) graduates from college with plans to tour Europe with a friend. Instead he winds up working at Adventureland, a semi-seedy amusement park. He meets the owners and the other workers and immediately falls for Em (Kristen Stewart). Who could blame him? What he doesn't know is that Em (who has serious family issues) is having a hot affair with Connell (Ryan Reynolds) and older, married employee at the park. There are plenty of other characters for Jesse to interact with, too, including the supposedly unattainable Lisa P (Margarita Levieva), who's attracted to Jesse.

There's humor throughout, but Adventureland isn't a comedy. It's just a story. People do good things, and they do bad things. They make amends or they don't. There aren't any heroes and villains, just ordinary people. That's part of what makes the movie so enjoyable.

The performances are fine from top to bottom, and the '80s atmosphere is helped along by a great soundtrack. I have to say that any movie that uses Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" is aces with me.

I could say a lot more, but by now you probably know if you'd be interested. If you are, give it a shot. You might be surprised at how much you like it.


Max Allan Collins said...

This is an excellent little movie. Funny but, as Bill says, a drama as well, without going over the top. My favorite moments have to do with park co-managers Bill Hader and Kristen Wigg, who are in a wacked out movie of their own on the periphery, and when, on the hero's eventual journey to NYC, the colors and lightings of the street scene invoke those of Adventureland.

Why this didn't do better at the box office is a mystery, except of course that real stories don't seem to do that well any more.

Unknown said...

Maybe people thought it was just a standard teen comedy. I hope a lot of folks discover it on DVD.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I really liked it too. Such naturalistic performances and Max is right, it does seem like Wigg and Hader were in another movie. Made a nice contrast. Yes, real stories don't do well in the USA. This was a charmer. Maybe it needed more marketing.

John Kenyon said...

I think it was so good because it was so real. Unlike most teen comedies, you could actually imagine this happening in almost this exact way... which is why, as Bill says, it's not a teen comedy, but something deeper. I liked the fact that while it could have milked the 80s setting for cheap laughs, it simply used details to keep things true to the time. You can laugh at high-waisted acid wash jeans, but it wasn't played as such.

poker rakeback said...

This movie wasnt at all what I expected. I thought it was going to be a comedy like the last movie the director had made, Superbad. I was very pleasantly surprised and impressed with this coming of age story.