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Adventureland (DVD)

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Genre: Comedy / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Director: Greg Mottola / Actors: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Kelsey Ford, Michael Zegen ... / DVD released 2009-08-25 at Miramax / Features of the DVD: AC-3, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC

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      26.01.2014 07:27
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      Colourful characters and memorable dialogue make for one of the better comedy dramas of late

      Sometimes it takes just one movie to launch a career, or so it would seem at least for Jesse Eisenberg, who always seemed to be lurking below the radar of the moving going public making films like "Rodger Dodger" and the much underrated "The Squid and the Whale". That was until the double punch of "Zombieland" and "The Social Network" that truly launched him into the mainstream. Now while these two films were both undoubtedly great (jaw dropingly so in the case of "The Social Network"), it is the films which he made in between these two career milestones which for myself are the most interesting films and sadly also the most overlooked, especially when it comes to the film I have chosen to look at this week.

      Set in the summer of 1987, were James (Eisenberg) has graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in comparative Literature and looking forward to a summer spent touring Europe before going to New York to study journalism. However these plans are soon sunk when his parents announce that they won't be able to finance his trip as originally planned. Now faced with having to find a summer job, he soon finds himself working at the local amusement park Adventureland.

      While believing that he knows his path in life, having spent his life living in his intellectual bubble which has seemingly also shielded him from the real world until now as he finds himself further shell shocked when his preferred career choice at "Adventureland" of working on "Rides" is rejected in favour of "Games". Here employee's can be fired for giving away one of the oversized stuffed panda's, which is less of a problem when most of the games are fixed, so that no one ever wins any of the big prizes, as highlighted by the tour given by his co-worker and fellow intellectual Joel (Martin Starr) while also being introduced to Em (Kristen Stewart), whose combination of troubled home life and musical tastes, makes her a source of instant interest to James.

      James himself while not exactly have much in the way of assets outside of his supply of joints which soon proves all he really needs to win over his fellow employee's, aswell as covering for his shortcomings such as his virginity and bookish naïveté, both things we expect him to loose by the end of this summer, yet it is really the intellectual slacker charm of Eisenberg which makes this character work so well, as he bumbles his ways through casual conversation with Em, while at the same time convincingly discussing the relevance of "Moby Dick" with Joel. The rest of the cast while varying in terms of star power all embody their various characters with Ryan Reynolds and Kristen Stewart proving once more that their best work is found away from their more mainstream projects with Stewart in particular being especially of note, especially as she finds herself more and more frequently tied to her millstone of "Twilights" Bella, she is here on much more enjoyable form, as she oozes a damaged yet unquestionably cool aura which would give even Scott Pilgrims Ramona Flowers a run for her money.

      Perfectly capturing the spirit of summer jobs, especially for those of us, whom like myself lived in towns which really were only ever alive during the tourist months and essentially dead the rest of the year and while I never worked in an amusement park, having opted instead to lifeguard at my local swimming pool stopping young kids from drowning themselves on the flumes and generally spending by day inhaling chlorine fumes and having random conversations with my friends, there is something which still rings so true about this movie. For here your summer job, much like my own summer jobs are less about career prospects and more about making money, random conversations with your friends and general misadventures all which form the general focus here, while refreshingly not overplaying the 80's setting, by keeping it firmly as a background for the story to play out against solely, aswell as an excuse to dig out some of the better tracks of the era, with a particular affection for Lou Reed in particular the laid back tones of "Satellite of Love".

      An interesting follow up to the gleefully crude "Superbad" by crafting a film more in tune with "Dazed and Confused" than the gross out humour of his previous film, as he marks a decidedly different change in direction if one still set well within the same general territory for director Greg Mottola, as he crafts a much more subtle and thoughtful film, while drawing inspiration from his own summers spent working at an amusement part of the same name in Farmingdale, New York and its these experiences which certainly help to craft a realistic picture of the monotony of the working day, especially not made anymore bearable when forced to listen to the same songs on a constant loop especially when one of those song is the hideous "Rock Me Armadeus" by Falco.

      Within the confines of the park Mottola has staffed it with a colourful mixture of characters, who all in their own way help to shape the course of James summer such as the park's maintenance man Mike (Ryan Reynolds) who bizarrely is never seen without his guitar and generally playing on claims of having jammed with Lou Reed. Equally memorable is Bill Hader as the eccentric park manager Bobby, who while more restrained than he was in "Superbad" still provides more than a few memorable moments, especially when getting to invoke his psycho side caused by people littering in the park or just from the general banter with his wife and co-manager Paulette (Kristen Wiig).

      A fun and laid back indie comedy, it's refreshing to finally have a comedy which harks back to the memorable dialogue favouring comedies of the 90's such as "Dazed and Confused" and "Clerks", rather than resorting to lazy and gross out gags and stoner humour, as Mottola not only gives his cast a chance to shine, but at the same time doesn't sacrifice the story for the sake of getting extra laughs and while it might have somehow slipped under the radar, a fact which still confuses me even now yet despite this it is still truly worth hunting down.

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        21.09.2012 20:48
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        Adventureland

        Set in 1980's Pittsburgh, Adventureland is a charming indie picture which chronicles a young man called James' dismal summer job at a fairground. Jesse Eisenberg stars as James, and gives an impressive performance as the endearing young man working a tedious job to earn some much needed cash.

        Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, the film is a coming of age drama with some comedic scenes padding out quite a slow moving storyline. I wouldn't categorise the film as a comedy, despite having the makers of teen favourite 'Superbad' at its helm, although supporting cast members such as Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Martin Starr provide well-delivered comic relief at times. Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds round off the cast as James' reluctant and troubled love interest, Em, and Connell, the theme park's maintenance man. Their sub-plot is the least interesting part of the film in my opinion, although crucial to the narrative. The actors give wooden and stilted performances and there are no comedic moments to spice up their scenes together.

        The pacing of the movie is interesting in that the film seems to drag in places, but this may be Director Greg Mottola's desire to create nostalgia for his 80's youth. The frequent dialogue-free sections of the film would certainly detract from the film's likeability if it weren't for the wonderfully-selected accompanying 80's soundtrack. Whitesnake, The Replacements and Judas Priest are just some of the artists who you can expect to find popping up at various parts of the film.

        The supporting cast is the highlight of the whole picture, particularly Wiig's 'Paulette' and Hader's 'Bobby', who are the theme park managers. Their performances are laugh out loud funny at times but nuanced enough to be realistic. They are the stand outs in the cast and steal every scene they're in. For me, Adventureland is an enjoyable film to watch if you're in the mood for something nostalgic, but it is probably too subtle if you're on the hunt for a big-laughs comedy.

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        30.06.2011 14:40
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        A beautiful depiction of a 1980s Summer

        In the Summer of 1987, James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) graduates from College with his sights set on a road trip across Europe and a place at New York's prestigious Columbia University. However, difficulties arise when James' parents run into money troubles - in place of a once-in-a-lifetime European journey, James must spend his Summer working at Adventureland, a theme park in his home town of Pittsburgh. While there, he befriends his oft-eccentric fellow workers, including the pipe-smoking Joel (Martin Starr), aspiring rock star and maintenance guy Connell (Ryan Reynolds) and the troublesome Em (Kristen Stewart).

        A lot of people ignored Adventureland on release, myself included. This wasn't Superbad 2, as the horribly misleading trailers suggested - though director Greg Mottola applies the same hazily nostalgic tone as he did to his 2007 hit - and some, nay many, were disappointed.

        Superbad was one of 2007's best comedies, if not one of the best of the decade. A frank depiction of a day in the life of two best friends trying to lose their virginity before their schooldays are over, Superbad's beauty is in its execution. Like a feature-length, American equivalent of The Inbetweeners, Mottola's break-out hit is full of wonderfully foul-mouthed one-liners and such simple teen staples as trying to obtain alcohol underage or turning to jelly when talking to the opposite sex. It's a film full of truths, not least in its depiction of male relationships and the social dynamics of high school. It's also hilarious, and features Jonah Hill's immortal line as the crude Seth: "'I was so drunk last night, I shouldn't have slept with that guy...' - we can be that mistake!" Consider expectations raised.

        Mottola's 2009 follow-up is different. Adventureland is not a regular laughathon - though there are some great comedic elements - and going into the film with the expectation will only leave you unfazed. If you were to watch Adventureland without such towering pre-conceptions, you'll instead find a warm, witty, reflective, sad, honest and, yes, funny movie.

        Though Adventureland was made on a budget, the setting of Summer 1987 is never in doubt and the feeling of capturing an era is palpable. It's up there with coming-of-age greats such as American Graffiti and Dazed And Confused for being entirely of its time and place. Not many people in Adventureland wear mullets or day-glo tracksuits, and our protagonist favours old-school Lou Reed and David Bowie over '80s pop (one running joke is how 'Rock Me Amadeus' by Falco plays repeatedly over the park's speakers, slowly driving Eisenberg's James insane), but Summer '87 is in the flick's DNA. It's just that, like the rest of the movie, it has a very subtle presence.

        The performances are likewise. Jesse Eisenberg, currently wowing critics with his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, is excellent. Once dismissed as a Michael Cera-type employed when Cera wasn't available - perhaps less so now, considering Eisenberg has shown far more range than Cera in the last two years alone - the Squid and the Whale actor is perfect as James Brennan. Shy, awkward, a little geeky, yet utterly hilarious and even heart-breaking in certain scenes, Eisenberg plays a character you'll know from your youth - perhaps it was even you - and he is never anything less than 100% believable.

        Alongside Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart breaks free of her unwanted Twilight shackles and does some proper acting as love interest Em, a similarly awkward, yet preposterously troubled teen. Em is James' main complicating factor in his life, uncertain of his feelings or even her own, and is a crush legions of men will identify from their school days. Those who've only seen her in the Twilight movies might be surprised, but anyone who's seen any of Stewart's other acting roles will know she's always been this talented anyway. As Mottola says on his decision to cast Stewart, she's an actress that's incapable of being dishonest.

        The supporting cast are as magnificent as the colourful Adventureland staff. The always-brilliant Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig share scenes as the park owners, her truly clueless about the job and he taking it way, way too seriously. Martin Starr, as "pragmatic nihilist" Joel, is the typical 'loveable stoner' character with a notable difference: he's a three-dimensional human being rather than the usual weirdo. Matt Bush's Frigo, whom Joel accurately describes as "a demented person", ensures his surprising and increasingly inventive "sack-whacks" on James' private parts are another constant source of hilarity.

        Strangely enough, Ryan Reynolds, formerly the movies' go-to guy for a smarmy wisecracker, possibly pulls off the most tragic and layered performance of the movie. Maintenance man Connell may be a manipulator, a womaniser and a pathological liar, but we gradually realise, over the course of the film, it's all just a way to escape the crushing mundaneity of what his life has become. Cool cockiness gives way to vulnerability as we see, the last time Connell is in shot, there's sadness behind those eyes. This (not to mention 2010's compelling Buried) marks Reynolds out, truly, as an actor to watch.

        Aside from the acting talent, what is undoubtedly a key to Adventureland's success is the obvious affection Greg Mottola has for his material. The film, written by Mottola and based directly on his Summer spent working at the real Adventureland in his younger days, is like a bittersweet memory captured on the screen. Like Superbad, recognisable moments mirroring our own adolescence abound: the lousy job, Em's epic fallout with her parents and the park-wide crush on the mythical Lisa P, we've all been there before in some form or another.

        Of course, the melancholy soundtrack aids the overall tone, with tunes like The Velvet Underground's Pale Blue Eyes and Don't Change by INXS echoing in your head long after the film's over. But Mottola's unflashy directing style, choosing to rest his camera, instead focusing on his actors and finding the humanity in their characters, is the primary reason for Adventureland's depth, realism and warmth.

        After re-discovering the movie only recently, I write this review in the hope that word might be spread on just how good Adventureland is. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and sincere depictions of youth I've ever seen and deserves a more prominent place in popular culture. Just don't expect another Superbad.

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          08.11.2010 10:27
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          A coming of age movie about teens working at a fairground during summer break

          - Cast/Credits -

          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1091722/fullcredits#cast


          - Story -

          Its the 1980s and James Brennan is a college graduate who reluctantly takes on a summer job at his slightly run down local amusement park called Adventureland, in order to save up for his University course. While working there, he falls for a girl who is also working there and goes through a learning curve.


          - Other Info./Thoughts/Opinions -

          This is somewhat of a coming of age movie that some teens will enjoy, although its quite a slow movie and it certainly isn't jam packed with laughs, its more of a slow drama with one or two small bits of humour interspersed. The movie is advertised as coming from the people who brought us 'Superbad', which isn't a movie I've seen or particularly wanted to see but from what I know, that is a different type of movie to this, so be aware of that.

          This is quite a subtle movie, one thats really more for teens and young adults than any other audience I think. No doubt some people will be curious to see it as it stars Kristin Stewart, aka Bella in the Twilight movies and in this movie she plays one of the main characters and I think she gives quite a good performance, playing the rather nonchalant Emma, who's vulnerability she keeps hidden quite well until quite far along in the movie.

          Jesse's character, James, is also quite quirky, he's not too sure of himself and makes some mistakes which is where Emma steps in. There are other characters, the most memorable, in my opinion, being the couple who seem to own the amusement park, who almost seemed a little spooky in their personalities somehow, though im not entirely sure how. The characters in this movie are a little over exaggerated I think, which gives the movie a bit of a sort of comic book feel to it in a sense, its hard to explain well without seeing it but I think this is something that's somewhat common with Superbad, which the director Greg Mottola also worked on.

          Ultimately the movie concentrates on James trying to fit in with other similar teens from the area who work at the park and on his friendship/relationship with Emma, who, it turns out, is hiding her fair share of secrets. There are the usual social mis fit characters, some loud mouth bullies that try to get James sacked etc etc., its not exactly original, although thats not to say that its a really bad movie.


          - Would I Recommend It? -

          I'm not sure that I'd really recommend it, though teens might enjoy it in part, there are funnier and more poignant movies out there I reckon. It'd be worth a watch if its on TV but otherwise, I don't know that its really worth paying much to see. I think some people, particularly fans of Kristin Stewart, will enjoy it quite alot while others wouldn't think much of it really.

          Thanks for reading and thanks for any and all rates. This review was originally posted on Ciao UK under my username, which is the same as this one.

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            18.10.2010 11:09
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            A comedy set in the 1987

            It's the summer of 1987 and following his college gradation James Brennan has big plans. That is until things take a strange turn, his dad is being transferred and his parents can't afford to send him to Europe for the summer, let alone contribute to his living expenses in New York the next year. Add to this the fact he's been dumped and things look bad for James. That is until he moves back home and after being forced to take a job at Adventureland he meets Em and suddenly things aren't looking too bad. With a few ups and downs along the way the movie follows James and his summer at Adventureland.

            I have to admit that from the few trailers I had seen of Adventureland that I had quite high hopes. It looked like it would be a rather amusing and interesting movie, but having sat through the 107 minute runtime I was left very disappointed. The film is advertised as a romantic comedy but there are only a few truly funny moments in evidence and the romantic element of the movie seems clumsier and badly planned than I was perhaps expecting.

            Perhaps my cause for optimism prior to seeing the movie was the presence of Greg Mottola as writer and director. I had really enjoyed his previous directorial outing with Superbad and that perhaps made my expectations of Adventureland a little too high. The biggest problem with the filming was perhaps the overly dark scenes when it came to evenings. I felt that Mottola had really captured the feel of 1987 in the day time sequences and everything looked quite convincing. It was during the evening scenes though that it just got a little too dark and it ruined the overall effect of the film.

            It wasn't just in the shooting quality of the movie that it really suffered. I think the biggest problem was the plot. It's not that it was a particularly bad concept either it just never really seemed to kick into life. The story moved along at a pretty pedestrian pace and that just seemed to make me lose interest and what otherwise could have been key moments in the story. It had all been done a thousand times before and usually a lot better, which given how much I'd been looking forward to seeing this movie was a real personal disappointment.

            If there was one thing that Mottola got right with this movie it would have been casting Jessie Eisenberg in the lead role as James. He has the right look and personality to really pull of the character of James and I think it's for this reason that the film wasn't completely lost. The real plus of the movie is that you find yourself hoping that James and Em get together and that is purely down to Jessie's performance. In the opposite role as Em they have cast Kristen Stewart and just like in the Twilight movies there seems to be a lack of Chemistry from her towards her leading man.

            I've now seen 4 films starring Kristen Stewart and I'm still not really sure what she offers other than being very pleasant on the eye. I don't feel that she has leading lady potential which is a real shame but her performance here seems forced and unnatural which is a real shame. Then there is the criminal underuse of someone like Ryan Reynolds as the park maintenance manager. I felt he could have brought a lot more to the movie and seems to be majorly underused. The rest of the cast were adequate but with the lack of pace to the story no one really had an opportunity to shine.

            Overall I really wasn't that impressed by Adventureland. Despite my initial high expectations I was left feeling really disappointed by a movie that never really realised its potential. It could have been a lot better than it is and that is really down to a combination of bad lighting and a script that never really gets off the ground. I would really like to be able to recommend this movie but I'm afraid that I really can't bring myself to do it. I'm afraid that this film just doesn't make the grade and there are plenty of other, better teen based romantic comedies around.

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            15.07.2010 22:16
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            pretty good film

            (film only review)

            Introduction

            This is another in the comedy drama style teenage coming of age film genre. Although the main character maybe a little bit older than what would be considered teenager, it is of that style. It is from the same director that was involved in Superbad so if you enjoyed that film then it is likely you will probably also enjoy this one. It was released in April 2009 and stars the likes of Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds.

            Plot

            The film is set in 1987 Pittsburgh, USA where James (Eisenberg) has just graduated college and is about to embark on a summer trip/vacation before he is about to go to an Ivy League school to study Journalism. Well that was the plan before he finds out his parents no longer have the money to help him to do this after he found out they have had a career setback. He is left to find a summer job to cover his expenses.The only one he can find is at a local amusement park called Adventureland. On starting his job he finds out the games are fixed and the rides make people sick. He also meets a range of weird and wonderful characters who he soon makes friends with. He also meets Emily (Stewart) who becomes his love interest but things are a bit more complicated then they first seem. James encounters painful learning experiences about life, love and trust and he begins to find out what he really values in life.

            Opinion

            This film is classed as a comedy but I would not say it is laugh out loud funny. Alot of the humour is quite dry and sarcastic in nature. Eisenberg plays his role in an effective way which makes his character quite likeable. Stewart is also very good in her role as Emily. I am not really interested in the Twilight films but seeing her in this film and also Into the Wild, I have been impressed with her acting and on screen presence. Ryan Reynolds and Bill Hader also do well in their roles. Overall this is a pretty good film. It is not overly funny and silly and has a strong human element to it which connects you to the characters in the film. The film also has a great soundtrack which goes well with it featuring tracks from the 80's mainly.I would give it 4/5 stars,

            The film currently has a rating of 7.2/10 from 31,977 votes on imdb.com.

            Film details:

            Directed by: Greg Mottola

            Produced by:

            Sidney Kimmel
            Anne Carey
            Ted Hope

            Written by: Greg Mottola

            Starring:

            Jesse Eisenberg
            Kristen Stewart
            Ryan Reynolds
            Martin Starr
            Bill Hader
            Kristen Wiig

            Release date(s): April 3, 2009
            Running time: 107 minutes

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              04.07.2010 06:44
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              A trip down memory lane to the 1980's and teenage years.

              Released in 2009 and starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in the lead roles and directed by Greg Mottola.

              The story is set in 1987 Pittsburgh where James Brennan played by Jesse Eisenberg finds that in order to afford his dream of college and a flat in New York with his rich friend, he needs a job. The job in question is as an attendant in a local theme park with attractions that would normally make up a fair or carnival (in America) like coconut shy, hook a duck, merry-go-round, waltzer, that sort of thing. The fair is called Adventureland and is open for the summer.

              The soundtrack is excellent , made up of various hits from the 1980's and the background to the drama although the audience for the film is probably mid to late teens and beyond.

              The problems and issues of teenage life and how they are resolved provide the core of the film. A wonderfully nostalgic remembrance of teenage crushes, drink, some drugs and the need for money to be able to have an independent life and not rely on the parents. Both of the lead actors fall naturally into their roles and give credibility to the drama. I hadn't come across Eisenberg in a lead role but playing James, who falls directly between being a jock and a nerd, he performs very well. Kristen Stewart plays Emily who meets James at Adventureland. She is learning about life outside of home and work and is clearly influenced by cool park engineer Mike Connell played by Ryan Reynolds. Kristen plays the part well but I found her portrayal a little too similar to her role as Bella Swan in the Twilight films, a sullen introvert, and I would like to see her in a comedy or a meatier drama part.

              Overall the plot is a little thin on drama, although there are incidents for the lead characters to resolve, but it moves along at a reasonable pace and as I said the excellent soundtrack complements the story.

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              26.06.2010 12:55
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              Well worth a watch

              This is a movie which is not dissimilar from the sort of American coming of age movies that I have seen many times before, but I still really enjoyed it. The year is 1987, and a teenager from Pittsburgh all set to go off to study his dream course in New York gets a nasty shock when it becomes apparent that his parents are not going to be able to pay for him to continue his education. To try and raise funds, he takes a job at a theme park, and the movie is basically all about the summer which he spends there, and the people he meets.

              So we have the usual love interest, played by Kirsten Stewart, whose existence has completely passed me by until now (my daughters are a bit young still for 'Twilight'!), and a number of other amusing characters, the geek, the gross out, the Little Miss Pretty Molly Ringwald in 'The Breakfast Club' character, and the older guitar playing pretty boy still trying to cling on to his youth. Director Greg Mottola does a great job with them all, and although the storyline is all pretty predictable, what I like about it is that he doesn't resort to a continual stream of gross out moments for his humour - there is definitely a more subtle approach than in 'Superbad', although there is still plenty of drunken vomiting for those who appreciate that kind of thing.

              This movie is not going to change your life, and in cases such as my own, it might even make you yearn back to a time many years ago when life seemed so much simpler, albeit with a dose of raw pain with regard to relationships with which you were less well equipped to deal! However I would still recommend it as a very enjoyable way to spend a little over an hour and a half - and to round it all off, the soundtrack is great for 'oldies' like me!

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              12.04.2010 15:48
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              It's stuck with me but still not sure...

              Having read a favourable review, I decided to watch Adventureland. As a fan of the Twilight saga I was also keen to see Kristen Stewart in something, having only seen her as Bella, and never being 100% sold on her performance.

              Adventureland is set in the late 1980s, in Pittsburgh. The main character, James (played by Jesse Eisenburg), returns home having graduated from college. He had hoped to spend the summer before grad school in Europe but he can't afford to, so he gets a job at the local theme park, Adventureland, running the games, and there he makes new friends, including Stewart's character, Em.

              There isn't really a great deal of story to Adventureland. Things happen, good and bad, and we see James fall in love, but the film is more about the characters and this time in their lives than the story itself. This strange mix of people have all ended up working at Adventureland, and it affects them all.

              James is annoying. He's a sap and generally a bit pathetic. The current trend in teen style movies that I've seen recently seems to be for geeky, slightly pathetic and not very attractive heroes - whatever happened to the good looking boys we got in the 80s and 90s? Guys like Judd Nelson, and Andrew McCarthy???

              Kristen Stewart impressed me as Em. I don't think she will be stereotyped as Bella, unlike poor Robert Pattinson who may struggle to throw off Edward after Twilight. Stewart can act - her performance as the confused yet outwardly confident Em is very convincing. Something about her performance made me feel she was more at ease here than she ever is as Bella.

              Another very good performance was Ryan Reynolds as Mike. He's the one all the guys want to be, a musician, effortlessly cool, and he once played with Lou Reed. But then the cracks begin to show and the truth about him comes out, and we see that all along he has been truly pathetic. Reynolds performance of the character does not change from when he was the cool guy to when everyone realises what he is truly like, it is the same all the way through, but so subtle that we don't pick up on it until the truth is confronted. As this point the viewer can see what has been there all along - that Mike is a pathetic, washed up fake.

              I enjoyed Adventureland, but I think I mistakenly expected more excitement from it. It's a fairly gentle watch, but it's been a few weeks since I watched it and I'm still wondering about whether I really enjoyed it or not - so it has at least stayed with me. And I did truly enjoy Stewart's performance.

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                06.03.2010 12:27
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                Melancholy laughter..

                RuN-TiMe - 107 minutes
                Director - Greg Mattola
                Imdb.com scores it 7.2 out of 10 (32,561 votes)
                Certificate 18
                Suited to a mature audience

                With both Jessie Eisenburg and Kristen Stewart (Twilight) nominated for the Orange Rising Star Award at last months BAFTAs, which Amy would win, I thought I best check them both out in Adventurland, a good enough pedigree to give it ago for me. Eisenburg also starred in the equally enjoyable Zombiland, which is also set in and around an amusement park, Adventureland effectively the alta-ego of that movie for him.

                Eisenburg came to my attention in the impressive movie 'Rodger Dodger', about a vain advertising chap (a superb performance by Scott Campbell), who takes a 16-year-old kid from the sticks under his arm to teach him how to pick up women in the big city, the kid ending up learning rather too much and embarrassing the guy. If you haven't seen that movie and you're over 30 you really really need to. It's very good. Jesse was also in the dreadfully self-indulgent and pretentious Squid and the Whale, of which he was the best thing in it, and also in M Night Shaylamens last decent film, 'The Village'. I suspect I'm still one of very few people on here who thinks that though.

                Pitched as a teen comedy in the Judd Apatow mould, Adventurland, directed by Greg Mattola of the excellent 'Superbad' fame, is set in the late 1980's, anyone who enjoyed that decade soon seduced by the pumping retro rock soundtrack that feeds you in here, that era the best for me for film and music. Although the movie is period it takes a good half-hour to pick up on that fact as America suburbs tend to be timeless and non-descript in the movies over there, recession hit Pittsburgh in 1987 not exactly obvious here. The original Adventurland Amusement Park in Farmingdale, NY State is too modern now and so director Greg Mattola had to relocate the shoot to one of only two remaining and original wooden coaster parks in America, Kennywood in Pittsburgh. There's just something about amusement parks and that nomadic disconnect from normal life that make movies work so well and it's the case here.

                -The Cast-

                Jesse Eisenberg ... James Brennan
                Kelsey Ford ... Arlene
                Michael Zegen ... Eric
                Ryan McFarland ... Brad
                Jack Gilpin ... Mr. Brennan
                Wendie Malick ... Mrs. Brennan
                Matt Bush ... Tommy Frigo
                Todd Cioppa ... Velvet Touch Manage
                Stephen Mast ... Rich
                Kristen Wiig ... Paulette
                Bill Hader ... Bobby
                Martin Starr ... Joel

                -The Plot-

                Deep thinking college grad James Brennan (Eisenberg) is off to Columbia University to study journalism, but only after he's toured Europe, or, at least, he thought he was, his plans to share a bachelor pad with his best mate Eric (Michael Zegen) quickly dashed at the start of the summer after his father has been 'downsized' in the Regan era and so cut backs have to be made. For his twenty-second birthday he was expecting a big cheque for the trip. If he wants to go now he is going to have to do the unthinkable...get a summer job! His other best friend, the little bit crazy Tommy Frigo (Matt Bush), is ecstatic about the change and looks forward to annoying James all summer long with his zany japes, a man not bound for higher learning.

                With no decent work around it's the last resort time, Adventurland, the nearby and rickety amusement park. Assistant Manager Bobby (Bill Hader), sporting a magnificent period moustache, is pleased to see him, employing the kid on the spot, James wanting to work on the rides, Bobby putting him on games. Bobby thinks James is a games kind of guy.

                Joel: We pay little Malaysian kids 10 cents a day to make these toys, we can't just *give* them away.

                On games-the rifle shoot-he meets Joel (Martin Starr), a dry and somewhat apathetic loner, who has done a few more seasons at Adventurland than he thought he would. It soon becomes clear the guys that dont get girls do 'games' and the cute and vacous kids that do get laid, do 'rides', embalzoned on their compnay uniform, the gum chewing sexpot employee Lisa P (Margarita Levieva) having the pick of either males when she so choses.

                Joel: We pay little Malaysian kids 10 cents a day to make these toys, we can't just *give* them away.

                Whilst James is working the coconut shy he meets cute and moody co-worker Emily (Kristen Stewart), who, on discovering he's a virgin and rather sweet and sensitive for a fairground worker, takes a shine to him, the two soon a couple of sorts. But 'Em' has lived a bit and is bonking the parks much older married maintenance guy/musician Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who lives off the tale he once jammed with Lou Reed, his get the girls story, an amusement park a great summer hunting ground, but the naïve James none the wiser as his infatuation for Em turns to love. But when Em dumps James (they were on a break) Lisa P decides to date James to annoy Em, but the crossing of the beams of games and rides, Ghostbusters style, not advisable, word soon geting out that Em is doing the back seat boogie with Connel and so threatening a lot of workmate dynamics at the park. And if James is not careful then he too will end up another loser at Adeventureland, being a 'games' guy for the rest of his life, his journalist dreams receding faster that his chances with Emily as the summer races on...

                James Brennan: I am amazed at how tiny my pay check is.
                Joel: We are doing the work of lazy, pathetic morons


                -The Conclusion-

                This is essentially a teen stoner comedy but without the crassness, stereotype characters and cliché situations we have sadly become used to in this genre, and if they are present then suitably disguised, one of those tender 'kids off to college' romances that is not aimed at the subject matter audience, a more mature middle-class crowd rocking up purely to reminisce over those college days, now that they are being strangled by kids, careers and the mortgage.

                With that confident Jewish-American intelligent comedy rhythm resonating all the way through this it steers comfortably away from the now tiresome Judd Atapaw thing. Don't get me wrong, some of that slacker comedy movement I quite liked, the '40-Year-Old Virgin' and 'Superbad' the best of, the latter also directed by Greg Mattola, Adventurland having that knowing and original edge to it like those two. But we can take only so much of that and if I see Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill's bubble - perm heads one more time in a film I will put the TV in!

                Adventureland absolutely captures that social class divide in America, in the way Nick and Norah's Playlists didn't quite do, the blue-collar kids doing the 'rides' and the white collar kids on 'games' the perfect metaphor for the social divide in America. Its part autobiographical for Greg Mottola and you suspect that he too was a geek on 'games', getting to work that distant frustration out of his system with this triumphant movie about his fair ground love affair and employment. As I said before, you can't go wrong with amusement parks.

                Although not stuffed with belly laughs it's observational and sharp enough to make its point and make you smile, a worthwhile rent to those who absolutely detested American Pie and Road Trip and the like, puerile not on the menu here It reminds me a little of fellow slacker movie Dazed and Confused and with the thumping rock soundtrack and some smart dialogue here it holds its own against Richard Linklaters esteemed back catalogue. The biggest mistake though is the casting of Ryan Reynolds, perhaps there just to flog the movie, impossibly handsome to play the character he does in the film and, of course, he's a truly terrible actor in that Ben Affleck category. But apart from that if you have an I.Q more than your age you will get something from this. If not you need to rent 'Dude, Where's My Car?'.......

                Bobby: Hey, litterbug! In the clown mouth!


                = = = = = Special Features = = = = =

                Just my Life: The Making of Adventurland.

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                  01.03.2010 15:34
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                  Worth a watch but don't expect it to be funny

                  Introduction:

                  This 2009 coming of age drama stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Margarita Levieva, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. The movie was written and directed Greg Mottola (Superbad).

                  In the summer of 1987 James Brenn (Jesse Eisenberg) is left no choice but to get a summer job in theme park called Adventure Land in order to fund his touring trip to Europe when his parents inform him that they won't be able to help him financially. James meets and befriend some strange and wonderful characters. He befriends Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds) a repair technician and also part-time musician who claims to have once jammed with Lou Reed.

                  James hits it off with another games worker Emily Lewin (Kristen Stewart), after she saves his from and unhappy customer who threatens him with a knife. They start to build a relationship that soon become more than friendship. Emily is more experienced and has been having an affair with a married man but James is not aware of this. Emily is surprised to find out that James is still a virgin. Emily gives mixed signals to James telling him she wants to take it slow but James soon finds out her secret.

                  My Opinion:

                  This was sent to me from my on line movie rental list and I wasn't sure what to make of it at first. I attempted to watch it several times before I actually focused on it long enough to watch it till the end. This is not because it was a bad movie but simply that I'd watched it with the mentality that it was a comedy. This is sold to us on the pretence that is is a comedy drama but this is quite misleading as in no shape or form was it funny enough to be given the title of comedy.

                  It is however a clever coming of age movie that ticks along at a nice enough pace to keep you interested. The acting from these up and coming stars is quite good and they get the whole complexities of youth and young love across quite well. The characters are believable and it's nice to see the nerd get the girl. It will not be a memorable movie that I'll watch multiple times but it left me satisfied and feeling good.

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                  25.02.2010 10:57
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                  Not a comedy.

                  I rented this from blockbuster as It had Ryan Reynolds in it and it said it was a comedy.

                  If you like quality films don't rent this. I was left at the end feeling that there was no point to it at all and it had wasted my life. It wasn't badly acted or really terrible so I didn't turn it off, but it was just dull.

                  The film is based around a young male who has to go and work at adventureland to earn some extra cash, it is basically about him and a couple of friends he makes at this theme park. He ends up falling for a girl who is also seeing a married man (Ryan Reynolds), but that is really it.

                  Considering that this is billed as a comedy, I think that is just a bit of a lie, there are a few funny moments but they are mainly someone getting hit in the nether regions, and they use that a bit too much.

                  The story line is extremely dull, and the dialogue is really boring. It's not what I would call a comedy.
                  Not worth renting.

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                  14.02.2010 13:37
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                  Romantic comedy

                  Adventureland is a nice little comedy that is rather subtle at times and is one of those easy going coming of age movies that are very watchable however afterwards they do not always linger long in the memory.

                  Jesse Eisenberg stars as James who is looking at the prospect of a long hot summer having to work to pay for his university fees and the story unfolds as he meet a young girl who has had a troubled life called Em, played by Kirsten Stewart who performas very well in this film. The film charts their relationship over the summer as they fall in love and then their relationship hits some problems. it is not exactly the most original plot in the world however the comedy in this film works dueto the quality of the character portrayals and the intelligent script that does not go for all out crass gross out humour instead it is a nice blend of sharp dialogue and situational comedy.

                  Both Eisenberg and Stewart work well together and they share a certain on screen chemistry that helps make the film work, Ryan Reynolds also appears in one of his better performances.

                  This is not the best film I have seen in the past eighteen months however neither is it the worst and it is well directed by Greg Mottola as he moves the plot along at just the right pace to maintain the overall gentle feel of this comedy romance and is a lot better than his previous outing directing Superbad.

                  This is a nice light hearted couples movie in my opinion as there is something for everyone in it. One to look out for definately.

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                  12.02.2010 15:20
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                  A nice little movie anyone can enjoy

                  Adventureland (2009) is a sweet coming of age comedy, from the director of Superbad (Greg Mottola - he also directed some arrested development episodes).

                  I expected a more gross-out type of comedy when I heard about this film, with lots of swearing and guys trying to get in to girls underpants, that though, is not this film.
                  This film is sweet and touching as James (Jesse Eisenberg - Zombieland) is forced to work the summer to pay for his education. He meets Em (Kirsten Stewert - the rubbish Twilight - here she's actually very good) a bruised 'different' girl (although these days this type of character is probably turning into a cliché).

                  The story follows their friendship/ relationship through the summer and beyond as the pair fall in and out of love with each other / get confused / do stupid things / neglect each other then realise how they actually feel. So no it's not ground breaking plot wise, but the supporting characters and the situations make you forget that we've seen this situation a hundred times before (at least). There are some nice turns by Bill Hader (he pops up in most comedies these days), Kristen Wiig (ditto) and even Ryan Reynolds, in a very good role.

                  I don't recall laughing out loud once during the whole film, it's not that type of film, but I was smiling throughout at the gentle and subtle jokes and performances. The writing was good and the setting (the 80's) quirky with some nice music from the era.
                  Come the movies end I was hoping for the best possible outcomes for the two leads which shows how affecting this movie was.

                  I'd recommend buying it if you like touching heartfelt comedies. And Eisenberg is certainly one to watch in the future (go buy Zombieland first in fact).

                  Tony

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                    01.02.2010 17:25
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                    4 stars.

                    Disclaimer: As with all my movie reviews, this is about the film itself rather than the DVD. I generally don't watch extra features or deleted scenes as they are usually removed for a reason and detract from the film as it was intended.

                    Genre: Comedy/Drama
                    Year: 2009
                    Key Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig
                    Notes: N/A

                    Overview:
                    Adventureland is a comedy/drama genre movie with romantic undertones, it details the life of a dysfunctional teenager that has just graduated from college, his plans to travel during the summer fall through when his parents announce that they will not be able to support him financially. He gets a summer job at a local amusement park and meets a variety of new and interesting people.

                    Pros:
                    This is a nice light hearted movie that is a very easy watch. The social awkwardness portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg is very effective, and although lately in film this has been overdone to death it fits this story perfectly. Even though the story has essentially no direction, it fits the mood of melancholy experienced by all the characters working at the amusement park, and is highly enjoyable. At 107 minutes in duration this is also a reasonable timed film piece, and leaves you well satisfied but not exactly wanting more.

                    Cons:
                    To be honest I cannot think of any negative opinions I held for this movie, the entire thing is very enjoyable. I would say that it's not something that would blow you away cinematically, it's just an enjoyable, easy to watch, film and nothing more.

                    Conclusion:
                    Overall I really enjoyed this movie, as I previously mentioned it is not the world's greatest movie by far, but something that you can easily throw in the DVD player and watch with loved ones, friends or family (although there are quite a few drug references shading it in a positive light if you don't want to expose children to that.)

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