“Adventureland” is a fun coaster ride, but don’t expect a “Superbad”-esque laugh-and-vomit comet.
Having been a good boy in high school and college, nebbish James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is psyched for European adventure abroad with his buddies before graduate school.
But when his dad’s job is downgraded, James’ trip is nixed, and he is forced to find a summer job “ his first. He lands a gig as a game operator at Adventureland, a run-down 1970s-styled theme park. There, James develops a crush on Emily (Kristen Stewart), a super-brooding, too-cool cutie whose jaded cynicism enamors him.
There’s lots of light comedy peppered throughout, the funniest of which is delivered by “SNL”‘s Bill Hader and Kristen Wigg, and Eisenberg is sufficiently awkward and uncomfortable to illicit situational laughs in several scenes. He’s like a more realistic Michael Cera “ not quite as cute and goofy, but with appealing, morose credibility.
Identity roots “Adventureland,” and every character struggles to accept reality on its terms. Underneath its comedic veneer is a moody, depressing coming-of-age story. It’s generally well-executed, if jarring. “Superbad” director Greg Mottola expertly handles characters that are well-written and believable, and he doesn’t encourage any unbelievable plot situations that interrupt the story. If anything, “Adventureland” could be better served by playing down a few goofy scenes, and spending more time on ancillary characters, who set the tone and tension.