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March 2010

Adventureland

cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hadar, Ryan Reynolds

director: Greg Mottola

102 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Walt Disney DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
review by Adam J. Hartley

Adventureland

This film is partially based on writer and director Greg (Superbad) Mottola's own experience of teenage years, love, and a job from hell. Set to a backdrop of late 1980s' pop culture, it's essentially just a coming-of-age tale of first love and ideological manhood.

The story follows a boy whose dreams of a pre-university European holiday are shattered when his parents start having money problems. In order to pay for university he is forced to take a job at the local theme park.

Initially it seems like the tired old formula of boy meets girl and falls in love amongst an array of one dimensional characters and knob jokes. Adventureland is in fact far from this, with layered characters and clever writing; it is as much about the audience and our own teenage years.

Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland) is a fantastic fit for the main role. The typical useless romantic with poetic flair seems to suit him well. He does however come across with an awkward charm that somehow manages to woo the most attractive girls he meets, despite never seeming to go anywhere.

The apple of his eye is played by Kristen Stewart (Twilight) who takes a break from the cult of Robert Pattinson to do something completely different. So much so that she isn't even recognisable in the role of the cool, unbalanced and unashamedly real girl.

One thing about Adventureland is that it could be set anytime and anywhere. There are no trinkets of the time or major cultural references that pigeonhole it into any year. This very much adds to its charm and it is a film for those of a certain age that remember being a teenager, and what that meant.

Ultimately this is easy watching with an enjoyable plot that rolls along to an alternative soundtrack to the 1980s filled with The Replacements and a serious amount of Lou Reed. It is definitely not what you expect and is a pleasantly surprising film with more feeling than Mottola's usual turnout.



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