Watachable 1980s set coming-of-age memoir from writer / director Greg Mottola ('Superbad') 'Adventureland' sees cash strapped student James Brennan (Jessie Esienberg) slumming it in a menial Summer job at his local theme park. There, he meets and falls for troubled teen Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart) whilst encountering a variety of oddball characters and making some new friends along the way.
Jessie Esienberg doesn't let a passing resemble to Simon Amstel stymie his shot at stardom, for out of all the hopefuls in young Hollywood today; Eisenberg, though he tends to play similar roles, is the most likeable by far. His awkward, unassuming demeanour coupled with an ability to be cast in interesting, off beat projects (e.g. 'The Hunting Party', 'The Squid And The Whale', 'Roger Dodger' etc) makes him an actor to look out for in the months and years ahead.
Kirsten Stewart, who's got aloof miserabilism down to a tee, seems to have found her niche as the new Winnona Ryder (a post I'd always thought was reserved for Sarah Polley), Judd Apatow regular Bill Hader gets the most laughs as 'Adventureland' owner Bobby, newcomer Margarita Levieva plays ride geisha Lisa P with hidden depth and sensitivity whilst Ryan Reynolds risks stealing the show with his intentionally bland but nuanced turn as theme park handy man / adulterous poser Mike Connell. Reynolds brings a surprising level of depth and humanity to a role that, on paper, didn't seem destined to be anything more than a two-dimensional cad.
'Adventureland' is an easy going, mildly amusing film whose haphazard transitions from broad comedy to intimate drama are often as jarring and as the dilapidated rides in the titular theme park. Not bad, could've been a lot better.
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