Imagine a hazy summer photograph. Now play the coolest 80's soundtrack, add in some stonewashed denim and you're in Adventureland.
A deceptively deep but breezy story about a young American dream gone awry.
Jessie Eisenberg plays the American in question, just graduated from college and looking forward to a 'transformative' European holiday with his yuppie buddy.However, family money troubles kick that dream to the kerb. So, to get out of dreary Pittsburgh he takes a summer job at the local, rusty funfair that is Adventureland.
Run by SNL's Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, Adventureland has seen better days. It's faded paint work and simplistic format serve as the perfect backdrop for a bunch of misguided youths to while away the days making a few bucks.
It's in this place that Jessie's character Brennan first lays eyes on Kristen Stewart's 'Em'. A Lou Reed loving, pot smoking hottie whose family issues leave her rebellious and frustrated. Indeed, this rebellion stretches to having an affair with the married and unsettling Mike played by Ryan Reynolds. As Adventureland's maintenance guy, Mike takes advantage of his ‘cool’ older man status to great effect. In actual fact, he’s merely a desperate thirty-something trapped in a loveless marriage.
Over the long, hot summer, we embark on the ups and downs of Brennan’s romantic escapades all the while manning his stall at Adventureland. The place where dreams are made and money is lost on rigged games and dodgy rides.
This is truly a character study if ever there was one. The nuanced acting and wistful setting paint a charming picture of growing up in 80’s America, neon clothing and bad hair included. It’s a gentle film that smacks you in the face every now and then with lines you don’t expect and moves you wouldn’t make. Nevertheless, at the end of the day it’s a simple story about some kids. Some pretty damn cool kids though.
4*- Adventureland may have aged, but this film’s got miles left on the clock.