The adventures of post-grad ennui

Greg Mottola’s new film Adventureland is a heartfelt foray into twenty-something tedium

Working for the weekend. PHOTO COURTESY MIRAMAX

Ashley Goetz

Working for the weekend. PHOTO COURTESY MIRAMAX

âÄúAdventurelandâÄù DIRECTED BY: Greg Mottola STARRING: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds . RATED: R SHOWING AT: Area Theaters In the last two decades, there have been so many coming-of-age, boy-meets-girl-who-rocks-his-world comedic love stories that most of the recent films in this broad sub-genre appear to be nothing more than tired clichés. Early-20s uncertainty does provide an overabundance of deliciously droll source material, but few filmmakers are adept enough to employ uproarious humor without sacrificing the dramatic elements of a story. Fortunately, Greg Mottola (Superbad ) is one of the few who can actually pull off this fine balancing act. His latest film, âÄúAdventureland,âÄù not only shows off his skill, but also demonstrates that the boy-meets-girl story can still be poignant if done right. The film opens in 1987. The eager James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has just graduated from Oberlin and is ready for a post-collegiate wanderjahr across Europe. Sadly, news comes that his father has been demoted and is now making considerably less money. Thus, James is unable to travel abroad as he is forced to get a job working at the local amusement park, the only place he could find a job with naught but a comparative literature major. Here he meets a host of wacky characters that quickly become pals and, of course, the girl of his dreams. At this juncture, the plot could easily become predictable, which it is to a degree, but it never gets played-out. Writer/director Greg MottolaâÄôs script is superb and his directorial choices suture the viewer into the charactersâÄô world with heartfelt and all-too-real plot points. He further proves his worth by treating all of his characters, even the reprehensible ones like the cheating Connell (Ryan Reynolds) and the superficial Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva ), with a profound respect that emblazons them all with a relatable humanity. Though there were glimpses of this character reverence in âÄúSuperbad,âÄù the intensity of its focus is much more pronounced in this film. But Mottola isnâÄôt the only one bestowing deep, human qualities upon the characters. The film features a bevy of talented actors who play off each other perfectly and compel the audience to care. Eisenberg once again plays the utterly charming, soft-spoken nerd-type, while Kristen Stewart of âÄúTwilight âÄú fame plays the brooding object of his desire faultlessly. But Stewart isnâÄôt relegated to obtainable female subject; she is nuanced and almost as central to the film as the protagonist. The other effortless performances include those of the always-immaculate Martin Starr and the hilarious Bill Hader , who plays the mustachioed manager of Adventureland. Granted, the story is phenomenal, but the overwhelming abilities of this group of actors definitely help the cause. As a whole, âÄúAdventurelandâÄù is a surprisingly well-rounded movie. Mottola could have easily repeated the âÄúSuperbadâÄù formula, but instead opted to test the waters of nostalgic poignancy. The final result is a smart, endearing film that manages to avoid the underlying banality of far too many youthful romances. 4 out of 5 stars