Billed as the follow-up to director Greg Mottola's deliriously funny 2007 film Superbad, I can't help but feel that Adventureland will feel like a disappointment by many coaxed in by the marketing campaign promising more of the same. Anyone going into Adventureland expecting another broad comedy from the guy who did Superbad, featuring Van Wilder, Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig, and the chick from Twilight, may be upset to learn that they were led astray. Because while Adventureland is undoubtedly a comedy, one that manages to be quite funny at times, it's not the film portrayed by its marketing. So be forewarned: even if you loved Superbad, this might not be the film for you.
On the flip side, if you didn't care for Superbad, or never had a desire to see it, then there's a good chance you'll enjoy Adventureland quite a bit. Its humour is more subtle than Mottola's last film, with its lightly comedic tone admirably balancing the fine line between comedy and drama throughout. Set in suburban Pittsburgh in the 1980s, Adventureland is the nostalgic retelling of Mottola's coming of age summer, with Jesse Eisenberg standing in for the director as James Brennan and Kristen Stewart as his first significant love Em Lewin, the girl he meets when forced to work at a dingy amusement park to earn money for school. I saw the film a week ago, enjoying it immensely, with my opinion of the film growing with each passing day as I recall the experience more and more fondly as the contents settle in my brain.
Which is to say that I'm already feeling nostalgic for watching a movie that trades heavily on nostalgia for its low-key charms. It's a lot like one of my all-time favourite films Almost Famous, in that it makes me feel nostalgic for a past I never had, for the universal ways it touches on the experience of being young at a certain time and place. And while I was never a recent college graduate working at an amusement park in 1987, many of the experiences in the film rang true for me, echoing some of my own as a young man a decade later.