Adventureland movie poster
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Adventureland movie poster

Adventureland Movie Review

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For fans of Twilight who can't wait until the fall to see werewolves and vampires interact, there's Adventureland, which stars that guy from Cursed and that chick from Twilight in what can only be described as a throwback to the classic comedies of the 1980's.

Jesse Eisenberg, who has also starred in The Squid and the Whale and Roger Dodger, stars as James, a college grad who finds himself strapped for cash in preparation for starting grad school in the fall. When all other avenues are exhausted, he takes a job at the local amusement park, effectively becoming a carnie for minimum wage. His eye immediately falls on coworker Em (Kristin Stewart), who is both open to the prospect of them becoming a thing while also deeply troubled by other issues in her life. There are no actual werewolves or vampires found in the movie.

Adventureland is directed by Greg Mottola, the man behind Superbad - a classic in its own right. Given that Adventureland is another R-rated comedy that also features performances by Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Martin Starr, all of whom had a part in Knocked Up and some in Superbad, I was expecting another comedy along those same lines. Those expecting the same may be disappointed, as the picture really isn't comparable in regards to the type of dialogue-driven humor that the Judd Apatow-esque comedies have capitalized on over the last few years.

Thankfully, Adventureland works nonetheless, though it doesn't conform to modern conventions. Adventureland does feel like a movie right of the 80's, a little more authentic and enjoyable than many of the movies we receive today. It's essentially a romantic comedy, but one that doesn't fit within the fluffy stereotypes of today's romantic comedies. It also isn't a romantic comedy made solely for women; there were many more men in the audience than females. Still, it isn't a guy's flick like Knocked Up or Forgetting Sarah Marshall, either.

Both Eisenberg and Stewart are good in the lead roles, though Eisenberg's habit of shaking his head to show nervousness or confusion has begun to wear on me. Stewart looks as hot as ever and plays her part well. Hader, Wiig and Ryan Reynolds work well in their respective supporting roles, though the best is played by Starr, who brings an extra dimension to what otherwise would have been a stereotypical geeky character.

The real strength lies in the screenplay, also written by Mottola. Adventureland isn't overtly hilarious, and yet there are plenty of funny moments. It isn't extremely romantic, either, and yet it has the right amount of moments to get the point across. More than anything else, Adventureland feels real, like it could have really happened to a real group of young people in the 1980's. The characters are well developed, the story interesting and the dialogue authentic.

Adventureland is no Superbad, and those expecting nonstop jokes from beginning to end will be disappointed. But for what it's worth, Adventureland is one of the better movies of 2009 so far and should develop a proper cult following once it moves to DVD.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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