Being a young adult is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life, whether you’re in a good situation, or a bad one, it seems that this is a time for most to celebrate and be carefree with whatever they have. Greg Mottola’s Adventureland perfectly portrays this lifestyle in a young James Brennam, a recent college graduate trying to raise money one lackluster summer in his hometown amusement park. For what seems like James’ worst summer yet, turns into an exploration of new people, new places and most importantly new emotions and barrier breakers. This movie presents a great blend of romance and comedy, and a flawless look into life in the eighties. Produced by William Horberg, Adventureland is a delight for all young adults wondering what life was like before their time.
James is told by his parents that his father was recently laid off, (news that young Americans seem to be getting more accustomed to in the recent months), and that he would not be able to cover the expenses of James’ graduation present, a planned trip to Europe. To cover what his parents had lacked, he took a summer job at the run-down, amusement park in his hometown in Pittsburg. The setting of the film portrays a mood that is hard to find in others. Bright lights from the carnival engulf every scene, giving a mood of corny, but admirable humor. There is a scene near the end of the film when James and two of his new-found friends were setting off bottle rockets on the side of an endless grassy hill that gave you such a peaceful feeling, simply because of the place they were sitting.
Humor is one of the main reasons this movie is so excellent. If you’re the type of person who enjoys sitting for two hours to laugh rather than mope, than Adventureland is an excellent choice for you. Situations are portrayed in this film that most adults have experienced at one point in their lives, making Adventureland brilliantly relatable. The chemistry exuded from the characters makes a perfect brew of comedy-filled situations and scenarios. Also, the movie has a more serious tone to it when the underlying relationships of some of the employees at Adventureland reveal themselves. Kristin Stewart or “Em” is involved with the park bad-boy Ryan Reynolds, “Connell”, who is married at the same time. While all of this drama is going on, James steps into the scene to eventually fall in love with Em for his first time ever. Em and James’ relationship is so enjoyable to watch, as we have all had our awkward moments with people we like. These two have an indefinable chemistry, even though they’re both scared to admit it. As their relationship grows, they share pleasurable times laughing, making mix-tapes for each other, working at the hackneyed games of Adventureland, making “special brownies”, and eventually falling head over heels in love with each other.
James soon finds himself in deep betrayal, watching Em walk out of Connell’s house in astonishment. A feeling that most have felt at one moment in their lives. After he breaks up with her, everything just seems to go terribly down hill. The word gets out to the park crew that Em had been having an affair with Connell, and because of sheer embarrassment Em decides to quit and return to New York. Leaving James without a clue of where she went. A song from James’ mix tape for Em; “Pale Blue Eyes” plays when James is sitting at a bar regretting what he had done. In the song the first lyrics are “Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad, sometimes I feel so happy, but mostly you just make me mad, baby you just make me mad.” Which gives a realistic look into what being in love for the first time is all about, and the many new emotions and feelings that come along.
The end of this film is one that will stay with the viewer for much longer than the hours and minutes counting on the DVD screen. Hopeless romantics will be more than pleased with virgin James Brennam, as he had come so far in such a short summer. Most of us can relate to all the characters in this film. Through all the drama they all stayed close friends and stuck together through the ruthless summer. Quoted by one of James’ closest friends as “the work of pathetic, lazy, morons”, this job proved itself to be more than a bummer responsibility but a place where young adults from all walks of life can come together in a workplace, bond, hang-out and drink together. As the drinking age differs from what it is now, the characters all hang out in shabby bars getting to know each other. They all know that they are stuck there, at least for this summer, and they’ve all decided to make the absolute best of it. Doing the same thing everyday can get boring at times, but this cast proves that when you have a good mix of personalities, any situation can be transformed into a great time.
Adventureland is a movie the viewer will never forget. The film exceeds expectations of a comedic romance. The setting was a perfect place for an unplanned relationship to unfold. “Yet, under Mottola’s even hand, “Adventureland” is no mere freak show or mindless carnival house. Boosted by its romps and romances, it’s based on the sincere dreams and frustrations of its teenage characters. It embraces their anxieties, dreams and youthful valor” (Byrge 1). The characters were idealistically sought out to have that embarrassed charm about them which young adults have grown to love. Greg Mottola uses Jesse Eisenberg’s bashfulness, amid Kristen Stewart’s earnestness to produce an adorable romance that all could adore. Though action movie junkies may call the movie a bit boring and timid, movie goers whom are interested in romance and friendship stories will genuinely enjoy Adventureland.
Adventureland is a special movie because of the music that was played in certain situations. It was all music from leading artist in the eighties, music that’s rare to hear anymore in present day. Hearing this again adds blissful content and played as a perfect soundtrack to what was going on with the characters. On the fourth of July in the Adventureland park when the fireworks start shooting into the sky “Don’t Dream it’s Over” by Crowded House, plays in the back ground quietly while Em and James stare into each other’s eyes vulnerably. Because this was near the beginning of their relationship things were still awkward and sketchy, but their smiles can’t help but make their way onto viewer’s faces. This is a movie in which this happens a lot, because the characters are so vividly believable, and the setting is so unconsciously romantic.
An acquired personality is necessary to completely indulge in Adventureland. Someone who does not believe in drinking before the age of twenty-one would most certainly not enjoy the story. Anyone with a keen since of humor would find this movie funny, but adults that grew up in the eighties and young adolescents reaching the brink of adulthood would most certainly enjoy the film the most. The humor is a different type than stand-up comedy and movies that are strictly out to make you laugh. If you enjoyed “Superbad”, Mottola’s first hit movie’s humor, than you would most defiantly enjoy Adventureland. As the humor can be directly related to the same of the young adult characters in “Superbad”.
Charity states that Adventureland is “One from the heart, a clear-sighted love letter to Greg’s own teenage tribulations. Starting out in high spirits then skewing more serious, it’s a funny poignant, bittersweet treat.” This film is one that molds around a first love, and all the craziness of that era in life. Adventureland also reminds viewers that anything is possible, and even when everything seems horrible, it could turn out to be one of the best times of life. The cast, music and story line offer a great deal of hilarious scenes and scenarios for viewers of all ages. Adventureland is something that all our hometowns have, and watching humorous relationships unfold here is nothing short of utter amusement.
Byrge, Duane. “Film Review: Adventureland.” Greg Mottola. TheReviews. 4 Nov. 2009
Charity, Tom. “Life is a Rollercoaster.” Rev. of Adventureland, by Greg Mottola. Total Film 4 Nov. 2009
Adventureland. Greg Mottola. James Brennan, Kristin Stewart, Ryan Reynolds. Miramax, 2009. Film