Adventureland wants to be so many things. It wants to be a slacker comedy, wants to be a teen melo-drama or it wants to be a Neil LaBute film.
James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a high school kid has been accepted into a Ivy League school until he finds out his father is broke the day of his graduation. So instead of preparing for the most important time of his life, James gets a summer job at a rundown amusement park called Adventureland. The park is a breeding ground for slackers, social rejects and the uninspired.
You have a musician (Ryan Reynolds) who is living a double life, a girl (Kristen Stewart) sleeping with a married man, the owners (Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig) and James’s new friend Joel (Martin Starr) who doesnt know what he wants.
The more James settles in the more he just wants to survive the summer. He romances Stewart, chats up Reynolds and even flirts with the park’s hot chick Lisa P (Margarita Levieva).
What does James learn at the park? Not much. Does he grow when he is at the park? Not really. He does however find a way to start over. How he does that, watch the movie!
I have watched Eisenberg since 1999 where he debuted in the TV series Get Real with now superstar Anne Hathaway. It was both their first foray in Hollywood. But Eisenberg seems to be stuck in the same schtick he was doing ten years ago. The only difference between this character and his one on the show is well, age and he’s a little cooler. He’s a natural actor but the kid needs to be challenged. He should have pushed these kind of characters aside after 2002’s Roger Dodger where he was brilliant. With that film you could see where Eisenberg could have taken his character in Get Real if it lasted more than one season. I like Eisenberg, just want to see him expand.
The eclectic cast of characters in the film feel very familiar, so familiar I got bored with them rather quickly. Reynolds does his best with the material but not for a sec did I get his character. On a personal note, Stewart’s stoner lost girl reminded me a lot of this girl I used to know in college. Strange even down to one of the T-shirts Stewart wears. Holy deja vu! This is also Stewart’s most grown-up role to date.
For me the most interesting of the extended cast were Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig who for me stole every scene they were in. I also liked Martin Starr but more for nostalgia sake because like Eisenberg seeing him reminded me a lot of his TV show Freaks and Geeks.
To sum up, for me Adventureland was in part a trip down memory lane and in other ways bored me to tears. It wants to be so many things and never claims its identity.
2.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer