Advertising can make or break a movie. Nothing is more frustrating than a trailer that gives away the entire film. Or so I thought. Then I saw Adventureland. I wasn’t looking forward to it, assume it was exactly as what it was advertised as “Waiting and Superbad in an Amusement Park.” Instead a got a brilliant coming of age film in the same vein as Dazed & Confused or Garden State.
When I left the theater in 2009, I knew I had just seen a movie that was going to stick with me. The movie was funny, touching and most importantly spoke to me.
The movie follows James Brennan, who is preparing to go to Columbia in the fall. His parents however can not afford to send him so James must take a job at the local amusement park in order to afford his grad school.
He finds the job quite tedious but becomes friends with the smart and sarcastic Joel, Part time musician Mike and the seductive Emily. James slowly falls in love with Em, who is secretly sleeping with the married Mike.
I loved almost everything in this movie but elements like the 1987 setting and writer/director Greg Mottola’s ability to make us not despise Mike are what make it one of my all-time favorite movies.
Mottola has pulled much of the script from his own childhood and that makes the whole film ring true and honest. The film touches on social aspects (like Joel getting turned down from a date because his Jewish), the frustration of work (hearing Amadeus repeatedly) and having a degree that means nothing to the world.
The film did terribly do (in part) to the awful advertising campaign. If you were someone who felt like this was going to be a juvenile gross-out comedy, I beg you to give the movie a chance. Odds are high that this was a movie written specifically for you.