Adventureland captures the essence of twenty-something reality in showing the inevitability of compromise and sacrifice of life after college. Hopes, dreams and ideals are endangered species in the real world, and this is apparent in nothing more than a summer job. James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) plans on taking a trip to
Europe before starting graduate school, but when he
discovers that his father has been laid off, the graduate is forced to get a
summer job instead, simply with the hope that he will be able to afford further
Unlike Waiting, the restaurant comedy, Adventureland shows a sweeter and more realistic view of a crappy job. Most of the time it is boring, and what amusement there is to be found can usually be found in co-workers. The theme park is run by enthusiastic couple, Bobby and Paulette (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), maintained by the heartthrob married handyman, Connell (Ryan Reynolds), though James learns how the amusement park really works through the help of another co-worker (played by Martin Starr) who seems too intelligent to be working fixed games at a glorified carnival.
With the little brain power that is required to run the games, there is plenty of time for James to focus on other things. There are two different girls that attract his attention at the amusement park, including fellow games employee, Em (Kristen Stewart). Stewart is best known as the star of the increasing popular Twilight franchise, but she has a natural acting ability that makes her perfect for a film like this. The conversations between James and never seem forced, but more importantly, she comes off as a real person. This is far more interesting to watch than a cookie-cutter plot with characters that act in ways that will ensure a happy ending. If these characters end up together it never promises to be neat or clean, and the truth and honesty of the film is worth the mess.
Although this is a comedy, there is a great deal more subtlety than director Greg Mottola’s last teen comedy, Superbad. The characters rather than the scenarios seem to take precedence in the plot, and there is more depth allowed when the humor is not forced. In many ways the film reminds me of the television show “Freaks and Geeks”: the humor comes from the situations which are dramatic to the characters in the show. Creating characters able to be laughed at and cared for simultaneously is tricky, and Mottola’s script comes to life in this way.
Entertainment Value: 10/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7/10