Editors' pick

Adventureland

MPAA rating: R
Genre: Comedy
A recent college grad (Jesse Eisenberg) takes a job at his local amusement park, only to find it's the perfect way to get him prepared for the real world.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr
Director: Greg Mottola
Running time: 1:47
Release: Opened Apr 3, 2009
'

Editorial Review

As "Adventureland" opens, viewers may be tempted to think they know what they're in for: another coming-of-age romance, in this case with the added nostalgic twist of being set in the 1980s. But quickly it becomes clear that this quiet, observant, just-off-the-nose drama won't take any expected turns and twists. Rather, in its own gentle way, "Adventureland" restores a welcome note of humanism to a genre that has lately become little more than a repository for fart-and-vomit jokes.

Jesse Eisenberg plays James Brennan, a recent college graduate whose plans for a European vacation before starting grad school are foiled when his family suffers an economic setback. James is forced to live at home and get a job at the local amusement park. There he meets an eclectic group of lost and striving souls, including a thwarted rock musician (Ryan Reynolds) and a sultry, mysterious girl named Em (Kristen Stewart), with whom he furtively falls in love.

That's the bare-bones story of "Adventureland," but in the hands of writer-director Greg Mottola ("The Daytrippers"), the movie becomes much more than the sum of its plot points. Thanks to an exceptionally deft touch, Mottola manages to capture the absurdity and anguish of young adulthood, while never sacrificing meaning on the altar of crude humor (someone throws up in "Adventureland," but it isn't played for laughs). With a soundtrack dominated by Lou Reed, the Replacements and one-hit-wonder Falco's "Rock Me, Amadeus," Mottola's tender look back not only plays to viewers tuned in to its particular frequency, but will ring wistfully true to anyone who has fallen in love, left home or still wonders what it would be like to do either.

-- Ann Hornaday (April 3, 2009)

Contains drug use, profanity and sexual references.