Adventureland: Making Me Feel Self-Conscious about My Lack of a Summer Job
The cover of the DVD case for "Adventureland" declares 'From the Director of 'Superbad','' but don't let that put you off if you're expecting a brainless sexual romp. "Adventureland" is actually more of a dramedy, with a somewhat serious tone, while still be uproariously funny.
The story concerns James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a nerdy intellectual who has just graduated from Oberlin in 1987 and has discovered that he doesn't have enough money for grad school at Columbia like he wanted. He needs a job, the only problem being he has no real work experience. The only place that'll hire him is the aforementioned Adventureland, a low rent amusement park where the rides break often and the games are rigged. There he discovers kindred spirit Joel (Martin Starr), a snarky and cynical fellow intellectual with no marketable skills, and love interest Em (Kristen Stewart) who has her own baggage.
There's not a lot to the plot of "Adventureland": it's mostly about James interacting with the various employees. But that's enough for this movie, which has some great characters. I particularly liked the owners of the park, Bobby and Paulette (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), who are off in their own strange little world for most of the movie. They're underutilized, which is a shame, but any scene which includes them is a real treat.
Also worthy of note is Connell (played by Ryan Renolds), the repairman for the park who's the closest thing to an antagonist this movie possesses: a man who's the coolest person at Adventureland, but who realizes that that's not saying much. He's only an antagonist in that he's competing against James for Em's attentions, but he's otherwise a nice enough guy, relatively speaking.
Martin Starr and Jesse Eisenberg both play their roles as socially awkward nerds quite well. Eisenberg is even a little endearing as James, really seeming like the sweet and intelligent guy he's supposed to be. However, I prefer Starr personally, if only because I find his ice cold sarcasm and snarkiness to be very funny.
Kristen Stewart also does well. Those expecting Bella Swann will be pleasantly surprised. I felt that Stewart creates a character both charming and complicated: she has a sad backstory, which causes her to react poorly occasionally, but I find it believable that James would me smitten by her.
All in all, I really liked "Adventureland." It's a fun movie, and it has plenty of interesting characters to get to know. Watch it especially if you're just out of college and aren't sure what to do with your life; it relates rather well, trust me.