Adventureland, directed by Greg Motolla, is my favorite movie of the year so far. I walked into the theater thinking it would be like Superbad, Motolla’s previous film, but it was far from it. The film wasn’t as funny, but the story and relationships between the characters made Adventureland poignant, sweet and truly special.
Set in the late 80s, recent college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) abandons his plans to travel Europe because of money and moves home to Pittsburgh. He is forced to find a job to save for graduate school at Columbia University. But for James, a summer job at Adventureland, an amusement park, turns out to be a great learning experience.
The movie revolves around James’ interaction with his co-workers, which reminded me of high school. There were the nerds, the dancers, the clown, mysterious musician and rebellious girl. And like school, Adventureland has petty drama, funny moments and the typical parties. The best scene of the movie was when James went on a date with Lisa P., Adventureland’s biggest flirt. They had many embarrassing moments. After smoking pot, James tries to describe his future plans, while Lisa P. laughs because she doesn’t understand him. James even makes a move when he drops Lisa P. off, but isn’t so smooth.
James develops strong friendships and even falls in love with Em (Kristen Stewart), a student at NYU, also working there for the summer. From the beginning of the movie, James and Em like each other and hook up. I ended up rooting for James and Em because their awkward and funny relationship made the movie engaging. At one point James and Em separate, leading them to search for other relationships that "satisfy" their own needs. By deciding who they like and dislike, they were essentially discovering more about themselves.
There is nothing groundbreaking about this movie, yet it is special because I could relate to the characters. They were going through a transition in their lives and I got to see their journey. It gave me hope that my transition from high school to college will be as eventful and meaningful as James and Em’s.