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Friday, April 3, 2009

ADVENTURELAND

By D.E.Levine

Director: Greg Mottola
Producers: Anne Carey, Sidney Kimmel, Ted Hope
Executive Producers: Terry Stacey, Bruce Toll
Screenwriter: Greg Mottola
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig
Running Time: 107 minutes
Genre: Comedy

Word is that this sweet summer comedy was inspired by Director Greg Mottola's own experience with a "summer job from hell". Taking place in 1987, James Brennan, a recent college graduate and Pittsburgh resident is planning to spend the summer traveling around Europe with a buddy using his savings and subsidized by his parents. After Europe he plans to enroll at Columbia University's Journalism School in the Fall.

With the stock market crash of '87, James' parents tell him he'll have to find a summer job and may have to consider graduate school closer to home. A very literate guy, James takes the only job he can find. It's a minimum wage job at a summer amusement park called Adventureland and once hired he discovers that while the job is terrible his coworkers are interesting and intelligent, and none of them, want to be there.

Forming friendships with low-key Russian literature major Joel and NYU student Em, James parties at night and somehow gets through the days knowing that at the end of the summer he'll have enough money saved to start school.

The group from Adventureland parties hard at night and forms ill advised relationships during the day. Em, while dating James, a sweet and innocent virgin, is also carrying on a sexual affair with Mike, the married Adventureland handy man who is also a musician but earns his salary at the amusement park and milks his musician mystique to get girls.

Em doesn't need the job since her Dad is a well-off attorney. However, Em can't stand her step-Mom and she takes the job to get out of the house until going back to school. Her relationship with James is strange since she's obviously more mature and experienced but likes him and uses him avoid any gossip about her and Mike.

James, in his innocence, gets a date with Lisa P., the "sex kitten" that every guy in the park is trying to date, takes her to a "fancy" local restaurant and then is too shy to make a move. He blunders through his relationships telling his current girlfriends about mistakes with his former girlfriends and then has to correct his blunders.

The summer is disappointing, and in the end, his money is gone and so is hope for Columbia's J school. But the characters of James and Em are developed in a low key manner that allows the viewer to relate to the characters and believe in their actions.

From the film trailer I imagined a different film and found myself pleasantly surprised with the story and the performances. This probably won't be a blockbuster film but it is entirely believable and enjoyable.