Monday, January 27, 2014

Adventureland (2009) [R] ****

It's June, 1987, and new college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has planned a dream European vacation with one of his best friends, as a graduation present to himself. Unfortunately, James' parents have had a reversal of fortune, and they cannot help pay for his summer in Europe, or for his graduate school at Columbia University in the fall. So, reluctantly, James takes a demeaning, minimum wage, dead-end job at Adventureland, the local amusement park. James is assigned to Games... ring toss, baseball throw, horse race, etc., and over the course of the summer he discovers that, in life and love as well as at Adventureland, some of the games are rigged. James makes some interesting new friends at the park, including Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds) the park maintenance man who cheats on his wife, Joel (Martin Starr) the intellectual, Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva) the professional virgin, and Emily Lewin (Kristen Stewart), who becomes James' first love.

Based on writer/director Greg Mottola's personal experiences working in the real Adventureland Amusement Park, in Farmingdale on Long Island, NY, this independent comedy-drama artfully captures the innocence and naiveté of young summer love. While there's nothing particularly creative about the screenwriting, and the upbeat final scene may have been added in response to feedback from test audiences, the romantic chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart is palpable, and the film is a showcase for Kristen Stewart's acting talent. If you're a fan of Ms. Stewart, and you enjoyed her in In the Land of Women or Twilight, then you'll want to see Adventureland. The movie was actually filmed in Kennywood Park (Pittsburgh, PA), a national historic landmark that first opened in 1898. Since it hasn't been updated, Kennywood retains its traditional retro look, including wooden roller coasters, so it was easy to shoot a period film there, and several park rides are featured in the film. 

Labels: comedy, drama, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 76/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=73, viewers=66)    

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