Greg Mottola, the acclaimed director of Superbad, continues his trend of working with awkward, curly-haired teens and matures his body of work with Adventureland, a trip down memory lane with bright characters that turns out to be a much more charming feature than expected. However, there's something missing in Adventureland and that something happens to be a sufficient amount of genuine humor.
After having to cancel his dream vacation due to lack of money, James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is forced to work as a carny at Adventureland, an amusement park with enough rigged games and corrupt rides to get the owners some serious jail time. And god forbid someone wins a giant-ass panda. Here James meets the girl of his dreams (Kristin Stewart); this happens to turn his summer of drab into the best time of his life.
Capturing the main essentials for '80s nostalgia and preparing those who disliked Superbad for a more grown-up approach, Mottola has reestablished himself as a young filmmaker whose work, beyond any doubt, appeals to both adults and teens. For that, my I tip my hat. Still, Mottola's second major at bat fails to hit a home run and simply hits a long fly-out to deep center. It's well worth a look, but doesn't manage to be as memorable, nor as funny, as it aspires to be. One thing Adventureland does do is make way for Jesse Eisenberg, a rising star whose fresh inelegance will indeed provide a fine line of roles in his unfolding career.
Greg Mottola, just barely taking off and never quite landing in the desired zone, has a keen sense of direction here and gives audiences a sympathetic, inoffensive, and sweet-natured look at the life of teens during the summertime blues and examines what helps shape them as individuals.
It's obvious the director wanted to do something completely different from his previous objectionable and insulting piece known as Superbad. This he succeeds in doing so with vibrant characters and a secondary risque attitude. Adventureland is indeed a step in the right direction and I deeply admire him for that. Hopefully Mottola's next project will also have a more favorable outcome.
Included in the unrated bonus features are deleted scenes that were suitably cut from the movie, "Just My Life: The Making of Adventureland," which explains where the idea for the movie came from, interviews with the cast and crew, and why capturing the '80s feel was so desired, and feature commentary with Mottola and actor Jesse Eisenberg.