johnlink ranks ADVENTURELAND (2009)

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been in the mood for stories about young people figuring out the world. Almost watched BREAKFAST CLUB or FAST TIMES, but decided instead to watch a movie from that genre that I had not seen: ADVENTURELAND. Heard it was funny and meant to see it when it came out. Can’t believe that was six years ago now.


I watched ADVENTURELAND (2009) on 6.8.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

ADVENTURELAND hits a nitch that is sometimes underrepresented in the film world. Set in the late 1980s, it is a dramatic comedy about kids who are finishing college and entering the real world, only they don’t have the means to do all they want. Well, some of them anyway. James (Jesse Eisenberg) has the education, but a recent job issue means he can no longer lean on his parents for money. If he wants to even consider Grad School in NYC, he needs a summer job. He ends up working carnival games at the local amusement part, Adventureland.

There he meets and falls for Em (Kristen Stewart). She is the kid of a rich father who has remarried after the death of her mother. Em has the financial means to do what she wants, but she does not have the emotional maturity to go after it. She spends her late nights secretly being the other woman to a married man, the park’s maintenance guy Mike (Ryan Reynolds). She has no problem being used by him – she is using him equally – at least until she realizes that James might be a better guy for her.

All of this happens inside the humorous world of a low paying amusement park run by a zany couple played by Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. The employees deal with angry and cheating customers, crazy co-workers, and lots of alcohol and drugs. And that’s just during the day. At night, everything ramps up as the partying leads to some questionable emotional decisions.

This is a movie which is about miscommunication. These are all people trying to figure out how to say what they mean, how to mean what they say, and how to be the person they want to be. They aren’t always eloquent, something which the script should get kudos for. In a lot of ways, the conflict of this film could have been solved through honesty and people doing what they should. Instead, this is a script very much about what happens when folks don’t know how to say the things they want to. All of that hides the fact that, truly, this is not anything special in terms of plot. The story revolves around a kid, who is a virgin, trying to get a girl who likes him, but is with another guy. That story has been told countless times. That ADVENTURELAND does not feel derivative is miraculous, and both the script and the acting are to be credited for it. Eisenberg and (certainly) Stewart have been loathsome in other roles. But they both fit here very nicely. They feed into a tone and pace which is relaxed and feels based in reality.

This is an easy movie to watch. There is a nice mix of characters we latch on to and characters which seep in an out of eccentricity. A Bill Hader scene involving a baseball bat accentuates this perfectly: His Bobby does something which seems crazy, but somehow is grounded within the world of ADVENTURELAND. I liked this movie a little more than I thought I would. It’s fun, it’s likable, and it is good even if it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel.




FINAL SCORE: 6.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on June 9, 2015.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks ADVENTURELAND (2009)”

  1. The type of movie that makes me feel like summer is upon us. No matter what month it actually is. Nice review John.

    • Great point. Up here on the coast of Maine – where is has still been like 50 degrees in June – I could sure use some of that summer feeling.

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