Sundance 2009 Review: Greg Mottola's Adventureland
by Alex Billington
January 21, 2009
When it comes to coming of age comedies, Superbad still remains one of my all-time favorites. So going into Adventureland, which is Greg Mottola's follow-up to Superbad, I had set some very high expectations. Right off the bat, I'll say that it doesn't exactly come close to matching Superbad, but it's not supposed to. Adventureland, while still a comedy, is much more of a story about love. Thus I had to change my expectations midway through, and as a result, I still came out thoroughly enjoying the film. It's not exactly a hilarious romp through the quirky antics of an amusement park, but it is a story about growing up.
Adventureland follows James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a recent college grad who is planning to spend his summer in Europe. But when his parents lose their money and can't help pay for the trip, he's forced to get a summer job at the local amusement park. After quickly discovering that it's not a glamorous job at all, he meets the quirky Em (Kristen Stewart), and soon begins to fall in love with her. But as he also finds out, she's been spending time with the park's maintenance guy, Connell (Ryan Reynolds). As it turns out, the story in this is much more about this love triangle than it is James dealing with his crappy summer job.
One of the many reasons that I enjoyed Adventureland was that it was just a classic and entertaining story. But one of the reasons I didn't like it is because of Kristen Stewart. Her character was pretty much the same as in Twilight, quite one-dimensional, and didn't really bring a much needed dynamic to the love story. Adventureland isn't the comedy I was expecting to see, but that's not to say there still isn't a lot more to like about it. It's a heartfelt story about growing up and falling in love and that is definitely thanks to the much better performance from its lead, Jesse Eisenberg. A great film to watch on a summer afternoon.
Sundance Rating: 8 out of 10