Adventureland, starring Jessie Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart (better known as that girl from Twilight), strays away from the pure comedy represented in its trailer and takes on a more romantic tone than expected.
The film opens with the slow-moving development of James Brennan’s character, a college graduate who is forced to live at home for the summer because his parents can no longer afford to send him abroad or to graduate school the next year.
After realizing his degree qualifies him for nothing, he begins working at a local theme park, Adventureland, and the laughs begin to trickle in… slowly.
The film’s main downfall lies in its misleading marketing. Anyone anticipating a true comedy will have to accept more serious plot elements, most of which were not even alluded to in any trailers.
However, one thing that was made quite clear in the trailer was the fact that Greg Mottola previously directed Superbad. Adventureland is nothing like Superbad. Despite the solid comedic performance from the likes of Bill Hader, anyone expecting non-stop laughs will quickly be disappointed. Even after firmly establishing Brennan’s character, the romance that develops lacks substantial humor.
Overall, romance wins out and leaves you wishing that a cast with such comedic potential had done more. It is comparable to Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist in terms of its careful balance of love and laughs. The similarities between these two films even extend to the acting styles of the main characters. Eisenberg’s part as Brennan definitely seemed tailored to Michael Cera’s style, but, without the awkward yet lovable Cera delivering the lines, many scenes communicated a more serious tone than was probably intended.
The other star of Adventureland, Stewart, never really stands out, but delivers a respectable performance as Lewin. As a character, Em is the rebellious daughter spending her summer home from college and the one who James quickly finds himself falling for. Despite the feel-good nature of this movie, their relationship is not without its challenges.
The biggest disappointment in this movie was Ryan Reynolds’ part as Mike Connel, the womanizing maintenance man of Adventureland. Anyone who has seen Reynolds’ previous roles will immediately see similarities in Adventureland, but the glaring difference here is that he is given almost no dialogue, making it difficult for him to develop his signature witty sarcasm.
It is possible that this was Mottola’s intention for Reynolds, but I think he missed a few opportunities for laughs. Despite Reynolds’ lack of performance, there were a few lesser-known actors who made up for it.
Matt Bush’s performance as Tommy Frigo, for instance, was one of the few genuinely funny performances, and Martin Starr’s performance as Joel was endearing and enhanced the film’s romantic elements.
As a whole, Adventureland is a decent romantic comedy that just missed the mark on the comedy side.
Despite Eisenberg’s shortcomings, he was still able to pull off the romantic parts quite well. His interactions with Stewart seemed genuine, taking the film from a lackluster comedy to a solid date movie.