Directors’ Showcase / UK premiere

Adventureland

  • Greg Mottola /
  • USA /
  • 2009 /
  • 107 mins

Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Margarita Levieva, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Paige Howard, Wendie Malick

A hilarious 80s-set coming-of-age comedy, from the director of Superbad.

Written long before his hugely successful comedy Superbad made him a bankable name in Hollywood, Adventureland is Greg Mottola’s paean to his days spent working in a Long Island amusement park in the late 80s. Picking up roughly where Superbad left off and transposing the action to Pittsburgh, the focus is on high school graduate James, who is devastated to learn that his father can no longer support his long anticipated, pre-university trip of a lifetime. His plans to travel Europe dashed, James is forced to earn his keep and finds himself part of the staff of Adventureland, the run-down amusement park where the employees are as eccentric as the customers they serve. With his wry sense of humour and thoughtful delivery, Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale) is perfectly cast as the slightly neurotic, too-smart-forhis- own-good James. Kristen Stewart, filmed here before her career took flight with Twilight, gives a similarly assured and extremely watchable performance as troubled love interest Em. When the narrative splits to encompass both characters equally, the two young actors share the spotlight with poise, proving their acting abilities beyond doubt. The comedy is underpinned by a colourful supporting cast, not least Bill Hader as kooky manager Bobby and Kristen Wiig as his adoring sidekick Paulette (both better known in the US for their long-term roles on Saturday Night Live). Ryan Reynolds is on great form as the slightly sleazy but nonetheless likeable Mike, a failed musician now working as the park’s maintenance man; and Margarita Levieva (also seen in Spread – p29) gives a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top performance as flirty eternal virgin Lisa P. The script sparkles with wit and intelligence, and the stunning soundtrack provides a musical snapshot of the 80s, keeping toes tapping throughout. This touching coming-of-age comedy displays a confident charm and a deeply satisfying sense of time and place; with Mottola’s comedy credentials cemented, the future looks bright for his forthcoming comic book caper Paul, written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, currently scheduled for 2010.

2009 Archive

Image from Adventureland

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