In the summer of 1987, James Brennan has graduated college and his plans to travel Europe have fallen through. He now must find work and the only thing available is as a thankless game attendant at the local amusement park (he can’t even make rides). Brennan’s summer of miserable, getting hit in the crotch, quickly turns into a summer of love, getting hit in the crotch, after meeting a challenging, interesting and beautiful girl named Em Lewin.
Jesse Eisenberg from the vastly underappreciated films Roger Dodger and The Squid and the Whale, does a fine job as Brennan, a deep thinking and emotional male who some might consider to be a word that rhymes with wussy. The girl he falls in love with is Em, who is strangely fascinating and troubled with some dark secrets of her own. Em is performed by Kristen Stewart who is much more charismatic, beautiful and all around likeable than her performances in Twilight. A major problem is I felt that all the characters and their actions seemed much more like they were in high school rather than graduate school. They walked into a bar at one point and I thought, “Why are they serving them?” I found the relationships somewhat relatable but far too juvenile. Some of the actions and lack of communication angered me more than intrigued me. The seriousness of the love story was short of some much needed humor.
The film is entertaining when it sticks with the friends, pot and other amusement park encompassing themes. Specifically Bill Hader as Bobby the crazy but kind hearted manager and owner along with his wife Paullette played by Kristen Wiig, create some of the most laugh inducing moments. The deleted scenes are particularly funny with more stuff from the two of them, which I think the movie badly needed.
One of the strongest characters in the film was the music with songs from the likes of Lou Reed, David Bowie, the Cure and many more. It nearly steals the show because that is what I remember most when thinking of the film, but I could always just buy the soundtrack rather than watch the film so the high points in music doesn’t weigh as heavily as points on story and entertainment.
Adventureland has all the makings for a funny teen comedy similar to DAZED AND CONFUSED but definitely falls a little short from that caliber. It tends to concentrate too strongly on the love story and not enough on the comedy. The soundtrack will help hide those flaws providing a great energy throughout the film.