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Starring:Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Reynolds

Director:Greg Mottola

Writer:Greg Mottola

Cinematography: Terry Stacey

Original Score: Brian Kenny

Running Time:107 Mins.

Do not let the poster caption “From the director of Superbad” fool you, this is mis-marketing of the worst kind, should the cinema be full of noisy teens expecting innumerable “fucks! and Apatow flavoured humour you might well want to tell them otherwise, because Adventureland is a much more subtle flavour of comedy, and one which requires a little more thought and heart invested in it.

That Greg Mottola directed Superbadis quite frankly neither here nor there, in fact aside from his knack for expert casting and the presence of Bill Hader there is next to no cross-over, true Jesse Eisenberg has lazily been compared to Superbad‘s Michael Cera, in the awkward fumbling teen role, but Eisenberg has been around far longer and had this character type down to a T when The Squid and The Whale came out, he simply takes his character stock and is now placed in a situation where that is fully suited and turns up his likeability factor to 100%.

It is he who really sells Adventurelandfor all those guys (and girls) who have yearned for that “special girl (or guy)” in their youth and come to realise that special person might just be as flawed as you, yet there is something there, something great that you love. It sounds mushy, it isn’t and handled with such a deft hand as Mottola (from his own script based on his own teen experiences) this is as warm a film as you will see all year. Beneath this central conceit of “young love” lie a number of other more comedic issues which not only compliment the central story but feel at one with it.

Hader, Wiig and Reynolds are all uniformly great and Reynolds shows that without the constant mugging he seems to have long left behind he can really show some proper acting chops, especially given the character he plays here. With their handful of scenes Hader and Wiig bring the big laughs, not entirely out of character for them but playing these roles so well you can’t complain that they continue down that route. This leaves Kristin Stewart (as Eisenberg’s love interest) to complete the line up, known largely now for her role as Bella Swann in Twilight she pulls away from the moodiness displayed there, yet somehow similar stubborn traits shine through, and where she could have become annoying, it is against Eisenberg that she thaws and you can’t help but warm to her character, especially given her more cynical world view is one many teens (and past teens) are likely to share.

Aside from character music plays a huge part here, and set in the 80’s Mottola had a great smorgasbord of song choices, thankfully sidestepping the populist choices, aside from Rock Me Amadeus which is an intentional faux pas, he assembles a great soft rock collection and touched a nerve that made me go back and listen to some of the older classics, one scene that uses Tears For Fears whilst fireworks go off is both touching and nostalgic.

And in this lies the film’s key strength, the story and concepts have universal appeal, everyone was a teenager once and the feelings that Eisenberg et al have here really never go away, any relationship begins just as hopefully, seeing the beauty before you discover the imperfections and begin to love that person for those imperfections, deep, not at all, easy to watch and even better to take in, and will leave you pondering your own life past and present as well as getting that fuzzy glow very few films can manage to entice.

VERDICT

Adentureland is quite simply fantastic, and fantastically simple, a straightforward(ish) story about young love and growing up, with a subtle and very funny level of humour interspersed for good measure. 

grade-A

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