Adventureland only succeeds because of the talent of its leading man, Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg, an actor probably best known for his role in 2005’s stunning The Squid and the Whale, carries the film. Directed by Superbad‘s Greg Mottola, Adventureland strives to be more profound than its predecessor, yet lacks the poignancy necessary for such a feat.
Set in 1987, James’ plans for post-college graduation are falling apart in spectacular fashion. In order to finance a stint at Columbia University, he takes a menial job at Adventureland, perhaps the lamest amusement park in the world. While there, he finds kindred spirits, falls in love, and attempts to escape from a dreary career at a local university.
Eisenberg, who seems to have made a career out of playing 1980s-era misfits, is an actor of immense talent that is simply misused in this film. Kristen Stewart of Twilight infamy tries her best to show a range of emotions but seems to be stuck in that patented role. The funniest performances come from Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, two shameless comedians whose brief scenes provide the best moments in the film.
Props go to the film’s music supervisor, who filled the soundtrack with brilliant, often hilariously-dated songs like Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus,” David Bowie’s “Modern Love” and The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”
Adventureland tries to achieve a balance between being a farcical sex comedy along the lines of Superbad and being a profound coming-of-age story. For the most part, it succeeds. It’s not as hilarious as it thinks it is, nor is it as deep, yet it remains a surprisingly worthy film.
Rating: 2.5 / 4 stars