[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope: Adventureland

A love story with some offbeat comedy

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

April 4, 2009 -- Based on previews, my expectations going into this movie were that it would be more along the lines of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” or “Superbad” than “A Walk to Remember.” It turns out to be more of a sweet, coming-of-age romance than a raunchy teen sex comedy, although it is not above resorting to crotch humor, or sex, for that matter. Overall, it is better than I expected it to be.

Jesse Eisenberg of “The Village” stars as James Brennan, a would-be journalist, who is actually more of a romance languages scholar, with emphasis on the romance. He is a shy virgin whose planned trip to Paris after graduating high school is scuttled by his parent's financial problems. Forced to look for work to pay his college tuition he finds himself unqualified even for manual labor. He ends up working in a seedy amusement park, where he receives little pay, works crooked carnival games and deals with abusive customers. He also makes friends with fellow staffers and finds romance, too. The oddball staff is made up of various losers, like the cynical Joel (Martin Starr of “The Incredible Hulk”) and few winners, like the handsome fixit man and musician, Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds of “Definitely, Maybe”) and the beautiful ride operator, Lisa P (Margarita Levieva of the TV show “Vanished”). The staff is headed up by the oddball pairing of Bobby (Bill Hader of “Superbad”) and Paulette (Kristen Wiig of “Ghost Town”).

James falls hard for the lovely and bright Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart of “Twilight”) while also striking up a friendship with the lovely and dim Lisa P. James and Em's relationship seems to be going pretty well until he discovers a secret about Em and her inner demons. He later has a date with Lisa P that he immediately regrets. His once well-ordered life falls off the rails in a hurry and his family is worried about the effect his new job is having on James. It turns out that James is simply learning that life is sometimes a very messy business. It cannot easily be put into order. He also discovers that love is not the way he pictured it, or the way it is sometimes written about. James must adjust to the curves that life has thrown at him.

The strength of this film goes beyond the hot romance between James and Em. Its strength lies in the power of its characters, primarily James, Em, Joel and Bobby. Each of them is flawed but also very compelling. Much of the film's humor comes from the interplay of its characters, but there is also a lot of slapstick comedy, some drug use comedy and even comedy poking fun at a retarded character. While the romance plays seriously, it is balanced by a lot of comedy, including some men hitting each other in the crotch. It is an odd mixture of serious romance and not-so-serious comedy, but it works most of the time. I laughed a lot and thought the romance really worked, unlike that earlier so-called romance Kristen Stewart starred in, “Twilight.” This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2009 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)