Published Apr 02, 2009Though it boasts the same director as Superbad, Adventureland isn't another Apatow-produced bromance. Instead, Mottola uses his new identity as "the guy who directed Superbad" to helm a coming-of-age flick.
Jesse Eisenberg plays James, a recent college graduate planning on backpacking in Europe and going to Columbia for grad school, who learns his parents can no longer financially support him. Desperate, he takes a job at his local amusement park with all the other failures he went to high school with. It's there he falls in love with co-worker Em (Twilight's Kristen Stewart), who's also home-wrecking with married park technician Mike (Ryan Reynolds).
Set over the course of a booze- and pot-filled summer in Pittsburgh, Adventureland uses late '80s retro-isms as a crutch to elevate what is a pretty humdrum self-discovering rom-com, in the style of Freaks and Geeks. These throwbacks are most prominent in the fashion and music, and as much as I love hearing the Replacements, Hüsker Dü and the Jesus & Mary Chain, not to mention Yo La Tengo, who score the film, I wasn't looking for the music to be the highlight.
Mottola loses the film to his blatant nostalgia (he once worked at an Adventureland park), with a plot that smacks of way too much autobiographical content, demonstrating just how responsible Rogen and Goldberg were for the runaway success of his previous outing. Despite a knockout supporting cast that includes proven laugh-inducers Bill Hader, Kirsten Wiig and Martin Starr, he wastes their talent by giving us an insufferably lovelorn protagonist.
James is far too naff for a lead by today's standards and the fact that he's played with such whiney irritability makes it easy for me to forget Eisenberg's brilliant turn in The Squid and the Whale.
While it may look like fun, the trip to Adventureland isn't much of a rollercoaster ride and certainly isn't worth the price of admission. (Maple)