Check out our video interview with writer/director Greg Mottola & star Bill Hader HERE!
Set in 1987, ADVENTURELAND tells the story of James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg). Recent college graduate. Hopeless romantic. 22-year-old virgin. Upon his arrival home for the summer, James learns that his dreams of a summer in Europe and a spot at Columbia’s graduate school of journalism may be just dreams. Over qualified and under whelmed, James sets out to find employment to pay his own way. His quest brings him to Adventureland, Pennsylvania’s premiere entertainment Mecca. Here, James finds so much more than stale corn dogs and puddles of throw up. He finds himself…with a little help from his new friends of course.
In setting out to make ADVENTURELAND, writer/ director Greg Mottola (SUPERBAD) said that he wanted “to have a bit of the feeling of a pop song.” True to his word, the film feels somewhere in between a Cure song and a Smith’s song, with a little bit of The Replacements thrown in for good measure. Like these great poets of the 80′s, ADVENTURELAND captures what it is to become infatuated with the idea of a person, fall in love for the first time, make lasting friendships and both enjoy & despise the memories that are a result of these experiences.
At times, the emotion and interactions between the characters, especially those between James and Em (Kristen Stewart), are a bit melodramatic and juvenile. But life and all its experiences can be a bit melodramatic and juvenile… especially when you’re in your early to mid-twenties. Does that make them any less important, powerful or, better yet, real? To someone that age, those are the hardest things they have had to experience in their still early life.
Which is why ADVENTURELAND works as a film. The film itself has a quality and a look that gives a realistic feel to it’s 1987, unlike other films that attempt to recreate the 80s with an almost spoof like quality. The story, the characters that operate in it and the resulting events feel just as realistic as the time they are set in. Most of us have worked a dead end job or two in our younger years. More so, most of us have had some kind of version of the film’s characters in our lives. The lovable asshole, the older guy that exhibited God like/rock star qualities, the unattainable girl that gave you two seconds of attention driving you wild for months, the friend that was always there for you even when no one was there for him, the odd boss that you wanted to be around just to witness their weirdness, the distant parents that you felt were almost strangers, and of course the first love and all the new territory that came along as a result. With these characters, ADVENTURELAND boldly goes where few films go… straight into the heart of love & friendship at a time of awkward adjustment to life.
If you’re looking for another SUPERBAD, you may not be tall enough to ride the ride that is ADVENTURELAND. Mottola chose to take more of a dramatic and heavier approach this time around. It’s the post-high school, post-college, pre-adulthood age where things are less carefree and a little more intimidating and scary. While the film does have a great sense of humor and its fair share of laughs, much of it comes out of awkward moments between the characters.
If you’re looking for a film that reflects on what it’s like to live life as a young twenty-something, with all its humor and sadness, then ADVENTURELAND may be the up & down rollercoaster you’re looking for. And if the film really were a pop song, it would best be captured by The Smiths when they sang “And when you want to live? How do you start? Where do you go? Who do you need to know?”