Cast: Jesse Eisenburg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig
Director: Greg Mottola
Running time: 107 minutes
In recent years, there has been a wave of indie teen films seeping out of Hollywood like pus from an eye with a sty. So, with that, we have yet another one up for release in the form of Adventureland and my first impressions were to simply ignore it given how appalling Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was. Alas, the invite dropped in my inbox and I couldn’t refuse. I figured I had to go in with an open mind else I wouldn’t enjoy it — and you know what? I was pleasantly surprised by how this film subtly grabs your attention and manages to keep it throughout.
It’s an adorable little production which reminds you of American Pie as it begins. But, soon develops into a Napoleon Dynamite as it progresses, leaving you chuckling and smiling throughout. So very simple and so very sweet, there’s one word to best describe this film: cute. Bringing fresh new talent and faces to the screen, combined with some of the usual comedic suspects, I wholly welcome more films like this one. Adventureland is so very nostalgic — it takes you to a weird place which reminds you of why growing up was so hard.
The characters aren’t too compelling and the story is simple. But combined they form a neat little feel-good package. Set in the summer of 1987, Greg Mottola (of Superbad fame — which I really wouldn’t compare this film to, as they are very different) sends his characters on a deep and meaningful journey about life, love and friendship. Over the summer, Adventureland opens and the students at the local school work there to raise their own cash. We follow the story of James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg, from The Squid and the Whale) who is saving up to go backpacking around Europe with his friends and inadvertently falls for Emily (Kristen Stewart). He begins to work at the theme park; thus his adventure with the other misfits begins…
Bobby (Bill Hader) and Paulette (Kristen Wiig) do an excellent job of keeping you giggling at their antics, as this comedy duo play the slightly dotty park owners who really don’t take any nonsense from anybody. Some of their scenes do unintentionally drag on for a bit; somewhat like the overplayed joke in Family Guy that deliberately runs its course to the end — and then some. It doesn’t feel quite right, also, to compare Eisenberg with Michael Cera; despite both playing bumbling characters, they have very different styles of character portrayal. I personally quite like Connell (Ryan Reynolds) in this film not playing a major role, but still managing to become pivotal in the story. Reynolds does well to play a completely different character to the one we’re used to seeing and suits it. This hard-up-but-genuinely-nice-guy character will be a sure-fire hit with the ladies.
The combination of crazy characters in this film makes it worth watching, despite some of the humour not being funny. The soundtrack is also not what you’d expect (being a little quirky and odd in places) and by themselves these variables don’t really provide that much entertainment, but together they create a force to be reckoned with. As the film progresses and James finally manages to get close to Emily, it forces both Connell and Emily to re-evaluate their affairs and decide what’s best for them long-term. There’s a lot of growing up to do in this film and you end up doing it too.
Adventureland gets a cool three and a half from me.