‘Adventureland’ is quite obviously semi-autobiographical . . . its drama just rings too true to be fiction.
This means that, yes, I think writer-director, Greg Mottola, spent a summer working at a shitty theme park, just like Jesse Eisenberg’s James, and, yes, I think that experience changed his life . . . and it shows.
Both his writing and his direction are poised and under-stated, as are the wonderful performances he brings out of his cast. The oft-maligned Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds carry their roles perfectly, and Eisenberg is excellent, as usual. There are also some excellent performances from the secondary characters, including Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig’s tragically wacky couple.
Their wackiness is only made more enjoyable by the beautifully realised time period. The 80s setting is used so effectively that it gives the film a real emotional resonance and authenticity. It says that even though their music and their clothes are different, teenagers have always and will always be the same; that they’ll always have to get through the same worries and the same self-doubt.
In a way, this is the anti-American Pie. This is a story about cherry-popping with minimal sex jokes. A beautiful, moving piece of cinema.