Superbad director Greg Mottola beautifully captures the awkwardness of post-adolescence in his semi-autobiographical romantic comedy Adventureland – and he does a pretty good job of evoking the look and mood of late-1980s America too.
The film’s protagonist is Jesse Eisenberg’s smart, diffident graduate student James Brennan, whose plans to tour Europe with friends in the summer of 1987 fall through after his family takes a hit from the country’s economic slump (sound familiar?). Instead, he’s forced to stay at home and take a job at a decrepit Pittsburgh amusement park – the eponymous Adventureland, a shabby, seedy fairground staffed by a collection of losers and eccentrics.
One of James’s co-workers, however, is the soulful Em (Twilight’s Kristen Stewart), and he quickly falls for her, unaware that she is having an affair with the park’s resident lady-killer – maintenance man and wannabe musician Connell (played by Ryan Reynolds), a local legend for having once jammed on stage with Lou Reed, or so he claims.
Even though it’s interesting to see him playing against type, Reynolds doesn’t really have the scuzzy, louche edginess the role needs, but his two co-stars in this messy love triangle are ideal. Eisenberg, who made a big impression a couple of years ago as the Pink Floyd-plagiarising teen in The Squid and the Whale, perfectly conveys James’s mix of sharp intelligence and bumbling vulnerability, while Stewart, convincingly playing older than her actual age, shows far greater range and depth than has so far been hinted at by Twilight’s Bella Swan.
On general release from 11th September.
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