Adventureland (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 107 minutes
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds
Director: Greg Mottola
If you're thinking this is going to be another crazy teen comedy like Mottola's last effort, Superbad, then you will come away disappointed. Not to say that this movie misses the mark in the laughs department, it just has a totally different mood than what the studio wanted to market it as. It's essentially a coming of age story that has some good laughs and a compelling story to tell.
Set during the late 80s in Pittsburgh, James finds himself home for the summer after graduating college and needs to find a job in order to help finance his way through grad school. He lands a job at the local amusement park and immediately falls for Em. But he's just so awkward (I guess he lived in his shell the whole time during college? It's strange to me because I had the opposite experience in college) that he doesn't know how to handle his budding romance.
This was a good story and it never once felt stale or trying to force jokes throughout. I laughed, but I also was invested in these characters. James and Em - there's a spark, they just don't know how to ignite it. And Martin Starr is terrific as James new best bud at the park while Margarita Levieva plays the pretty girl perfectly (Lisa P. !!) - one who's not dumb, but surprisingly shallow. And Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig do get to make the funny when they're on screen. It's also nice to see the 80s treated more than just a Halloween costume. Sure the music's there (and not just new wave) and the clothing and style is obvious, but the characters don't talk about 80s stuff (although there is a reference to Compact Discs...hehe). This story could have easily been transplated into the late 70s or 90s too.
Performances are great - Eisenberg plays the Michael Cera-awkward teen card deftly and the supporting cast is terrific (although Ryan Reynolds seems to be playing himself - like "Hey, I'm Ryan, I'm going to be doing maintenance at the park, please oogle me if you like" kind of vibe). And Kristen Stewart plays her part very well - I'm just afraid I've only seen her work one note (granted she's been in two or three wide-release movies so far) - it's just that she's playing similar characters in this movie and in Twilight, so it sticks out to me. Let's just hope she won't turn into Jennifer Connelly and start to play the down-trodden, solemn girl every movie she lands.
This one's worth a rental and it comes out August 25. So go pick it up and enjoy some corn dogs with it!