Adventureland ****

adventureland

“Adventureland” is a quirky little comedy about a kid in his early twenties, whose dreams of going to Europe suddenly get crushed, who is forced to take a job at a carnival for the summer, and the odd adventures he gets in.  That’s what it looks like on the surface anyway, but as the characters quietly develop, the movie reveals itself as a lot more.  All of the characters in this movie harbors a little sadness in certain ways.  Together they try to find a little glimpse of happiness.

Jesse Eisenberg plays James Brennan. He takes a job at an amusement park called Adventureland.  It is run by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, who both give funny performances, as usual.  James meets Em, played by Kristen Stewart, and is immediately attracted to her.  She is smart but complicated.  She also saves him from getting knifed over a giant stuffed Panda, which is always handy.  At first they hang out, they talk, the like each other, but then it gets slightly complicated.  I won’t say why or how.

The other supporting characters are Joel (Martin Starr) who is a nerdy guy who studies Russian languages and is not very versed in the ways of romance.  Then there is Tommy Frigo (Matt Bush), who likes to greet everybody with a shot to the netherlands, Lisa P (Margarita Levieva), the girl every guy in the park lusts over, then there is Connell played by Ryan Reynolds.

Ryan Reynolds does not get enough credit for his dramatic abilities.  Here he gives his best performance as a man who should not be married.  You get the sense that he wish’s he was still at the age the other characters are.  and acts out those wishes in ways that are damaging to those around him.  Reynolds has a few moments of humour, but doesn’t go over the top.  He finds a nice balance between wanting to be one of the guys, and satisfying needs he thinks he has.

“Adventureland” was directed by Greg Mottola, who helmed “Superbad”, which was a giant hit.  This film shows that he can take the leap in to more subtle territory.  There are moments of infantile humour, but the characters are not really going for laughs, but for acceptance with each other.

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