Set during the summer of 1987, Adventureland features James Brennan (Eisenberg) a college graduate who’s planning on going to NYU for grad school. However, as his father is demoted, Brennan is forced to get a job to pay for rent; unfortunately Brennan has never had a job resulting in Brennan getting stuck at the only place that will hire him: Adventureland
With characters that pertain to everyday life, writer and director Greg Mottola crafts a wonderful tale, pacing the movie at just the right speed successfully moving the movie from plot point to plot point while adding in subtle bits of pungent adulthood. Eisenberg was fantastic as was Stewart and while the pair spearhead the narrative of love, it’s the supporting actors that make Adventureland. Matt Bush, Bill Hater, Kristen Wiig, Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks), and Ryan Reynolds all give outstanding performances. Hater and Wiig as the eccentric owners of Adventureland, Bush as a crazy child hood acquaintance, Starr as a fellow coworker, and Reynolds as the maintenance man/local hero, each one weaving in between the lives of Brennan and Em(Stewart) adding their own fragments of realism to the mix.
Eisenberg can be put under the generic category of hopeless romantic, as apparent with the very first scene of the movie. Eisenberg quickly evolves his character though, changing from the generic when he’s forced to choose between Em and Lisa P. Em representing the real world that’s full of hurt and pain and Lisa representing the blissful ignorance of the impractical who live in their own sheltered world, a point fully illustrated by their job choice; Em works at Adventureland in an effort to piss off her tyrant, socialite step-mother who has replaced her cancer-riddled mom, while Lisa P. goes to work to avoid her real Dad who’s now stuck at home due to a working accident.
Stewart’s performance was quite sobering with her attempts to deal with the death of her mother and coping with her social-driven, bitch of a stepmother. Em swiftly tells and demonstrates that she’s been handling her troubles with the helpful aid of booze, drugs, and most-importantly sex.
Sex plays a rather large role in Adventureland with Eisenberg still remaining a virgin post-college and Em as someone well-versed in the world of intercourse. They slowly fall into a relationship, however, surprisingly, Em states that she wants to take it slow. Finally realizing, with the help of Brennan, that ‘love’ can be something distinguished and special and not just a way of coping with life, Em slowly starts to change from the skeptic she starts off as.
Taken as a whole, Adventureland is a brilliantly simple film about the merits of love and the obstacles faced in life. It’s something that states that even through all the pain and suffering, love can happen and that’s all people need to hear sometimes.
Joel Samson Berntsen (Everyday I love You Less and Less- Kaiser Chiefs)