Monday, 14 September 2009
Director: Greg Mottola
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart & Ryan Reynolds
A fun comedy from the director of Superbad which, while not possessing as much laughs as that film, is still an enjoyable coming-of-age story with an enjoyable 1980s nostalgia factor included for good measure.
Coming off from the success of teen comedy Superbad, director Greg Mottala follows up that film with another coming of age teenage comedy this time written by himself rather than the team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who were responsible for Superbad. Like Superbad was for Rogen and Goldberg, Adventureland is a semi-autobiographical tale of Mottola’s based on his experiences working at a theme park in the 1980s and proves to be very enjoyable with a feeling that the film could easily fit into the era in which it’s story is set.
When a change in his family’s financial circumstances means James (Eisenberg) can no longer afford his summer trip to Europe or count on his for financial support for going to college, James must accept the only job available to him given his lack of work experience, working at the local theme park Adventureland. Finding the job dull and underpaid, his interest rises when he meets a fellow park worker Em (Stewart) with whom James hits it off and spark what, James feels, a potential relationship. His hopes are complicated however by repairman Mike (Reynolds) whom James has befriended but who is also seeing Em despite already being married.
Whilst not as frequently funny as Superbad, Adventureland is certainly funny and the humour is more satisfying than that in many comedies as it, like with Superbad, is balanced by a fair amount of more mature insight into the relationships and feelings of its teenage cast. Adventureland may be a film about teenagers with a largely teenage cast, but its story is relatable to many audiences, particularly adult audiences who might otherwise avoid teen comedies because of the film’s 1980s setting and the nostalgia factor that that evokes. However, while set in the 1980s with nods to the fashions and music of the time, the period does not overwhelm the plot with the nostalgia factor certainly secondary to the film’s story. The approach to James’ relationship with Em is also very interesting and enjoyable, made more so by the presence of Mike which creates an interesting love triangle given James and Mike’s apparent friendship while James is unaware of his relationship to Em so whilst a fourth person is added to the mix in Lisa P (Margarita Levieva), as another potential love interest for James, it feels less like the stereotypical plot twist that other teens comedies/dramas might use thanks to Mike’s involvement in the proceedings. The consequences of everyone’s actions in the relationship therefore take a believable turn making the film’s ending more likeable as well as its characters.
Featuring an impressive cast, Adventureland features many enjoyable performances. Jesse Eisenberg further hones his somewhat neurotic intellectual teen persona similar to that of actor Michael Cera (Superbad) but more satisfying. Kristen Stewart is likeable while believably intelligent and conflicted as Em who carries the most emotional burden in the film. Ryan Reynolds is impressive as Mike, toning down his usual charming, wise guy persona in favour of something more mature. Amongst the supporting characters include Judd Apatow regulars Martin Starr and Bill Hader, the former as James’ friend Joel whose cynical humour is highly enjoyable and the latter as Bobby, the theme park owner who is criminally underused and steals almost every in which he appear and well supported by Kristen Wiig as Bobby’s wife Paulette.
Overall, Adventureland is an enjoyable coming-of-age comedy with several great performances from the likes of Eisenberg, Reynolds, Hader, Starr and Stewart which, despite not being as laugh-out-loud as the director’s previous film Superbad, is still good with more maturity than most teen comedies achieve and should appeal to adult and teenage audiences.