Although being set in the summer of 1987, one would be hard pressed to find any reason why Adventureland is not relevant to today’s audience of teens and twenties. Listening to a soundtrack from yesteryear, the viewer is caught up in a romance between James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) and Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart), while exploring the dynamic of the young workers at the theme park. The characters at this park come in all roles, from the romantic to the troubled, the jock to the geek, and the smooth to the airhead. Each character has their own reason for working at the park, for instance James is working towards paying for grad school, while Em just wants to get out of the house. Adventureland is a movie that gives a rewarding experience to a viewer capable of engaging the smart comedy and drama between people with issues.
Following up a directorial hit with Superbad, Greg Mottola wrote and directed this summertime adventure. The scenes and story flow naturally for the most part, with very few bumps. Often seen shots in the film are close ups of the characters, which adds to the intimacy of the story and also embraces the complex nature of the character to character interactions. The film is full of music, and adding a soundtrack to a film is always a risky move that will either make or break it. In regards to Adventureland, the soundtrack is perfect in every form. Songs are placed appropriately, and add meaning and emotion towards their scenes. A soundtrack timed and placed perfectly can make a good movie great, and it was very successful in the case of Adventureland.
The performances of the lead characters are what do the most in creating the tense and sometimes awkward romance. Jesse Eisenberg commands the movie as James, but amidst his awkwardness is his ability to comfortably find his place on screen among the other characters. As the romantic, Eisenberg’s character is rooted for by the audience, and his character is always willing to take the steps needed to get things done. Kristen Stewart adds much to the friction between these two characters with her role of the troubled Em. While some of Stewart’s more emotional lines in the film are flawed by her deliverance, her body language does shine through in portraying her constant struggles and angst. Bill Hader is his usual funny self, which is always entertaining. Martin Starr plays a friend of Eisenberg’s character, and often provides thought provoking and intellectual additions to the story, which the viewer hopefully takes in.
Adventureland may be a small town theme park, but it does show us that some of the most real things in life can happen in even the most insignificant places. The performances are good, the soundtrack works, and the story draws in the viewer. The characters find conflict, whether it is internally or a choice between lovers, yet the relationships are so frail that the audience is reserved in making any predictions. While watching, you feel for the characters, you want them to be happy and have everything work out, and maybe you even wish you had some sort of connection like the characters have. This film is a must-see not only for the performances, but for the emotional response a viewer will surely feel.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1091722/