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A sweet and slap-happy mix of indie coming-of-age drama and Judd Apatow's scatological but heartfelt manchild comedies, Greg Mottola's Adventureland is a winning look at the pleasures and frustrations of dead-end jobs and teenage kicks as viewed through a filter of mid-80s pop culture. The underutilized and always watchable Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale) is a sheltered, introspective New York college grad who discovers that his parents' financial woes will not only quash his dream of a summer in Europe (to enjoy its more "sexually permissive" nations) but require a move to Pittsburgh, where he lands a job at a dilapidated amusement park. There, he's thrown in with a motley crew of eccentrics, small-town types and a few genuine free spirits, most notably co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart), whose complicated past proves irresistible to his repressed psyche. Mottola, who directed Superbad and episodes of the well-loved Freaks and Geeks, and who once worked in a similar park as a teen, doesn't shy from the crude laughs that make Apatow's features so popular, but he tempers it with a wistful tone and layered characters that hew closer to his earliest work, The Daytrippers. Though ill-matched at first, Eisenberg and Stewart make a likable on-screen couple, and they're well-supported by a terrific cast that includes such die-hard scene-stealers as Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the park's offbeat owners, Martin Starr as a Russian lit aficionado, and Ryan Reynolds as a former town tamer, now reduced to working as the park's handyman. A soundtrack performed by underground faves Yo La Tengo and filled with a smart mix of hip cuts (Hüsker Dü, the New York Dolls, the Replacements) and period faves (Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus") underscores the film's blend of tentative emotions and broad laughs. -- Paul Gaita
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Top Customer Reviews
It is the summer of 1987. James (Jesse Eisenberg) is about to leave for Europe, before heading off to New York in the fall. However, family money problems have prevented the trip, and worse, he needs to get a summer job to pay for New York. Adventureland, a typical 80's amusement park, is the only place who'll hire him. His best friend leaves him a bag of joints to get him through the summer, and James is on his own.
Having gone to amusement parks in the summer of 1987 myself, I was impressed with how authentic Adventureland is. Everything from the cheesey "games games games" T-shirts, to the music, to Bill Hader's moustache (which is almost a character unto itself), and the rides really brought back memories. I am certain that my own local park had the "Music Express" ride, I can recall it very clearly. However, I have to confess that I didn't know anybody who was into Lou Reed back in 1987 myself, but I was in a slightly younger age group than these characters. I sure did remember Poison and Judas Priest. ("Breaking The Law" is the soundtrack to a very funny scene involving a chase through the park over a game that was fixed so it couldn't be won.) In addition, check out Paige Howard's hair. That hair is authentic. I know, because my sister has photos from the era to prove it.Read more ›
Recommend this to anyone who loves films and is looking for a blue ray to add to their collection.