Adventureland Review (spoiler-free)

Adventureland is not what I expected. Granted, my expectations were set solely by the movie poster. From that I gathered:

  • It takes place in the ’80s at an amusement park.
  • The stars are unknown (to me), but supporting cast includes Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig, and Ryan Reynolds.
  • It’s from the director of Superbad

You’re thinking ’80s movie parody, right? Maybe Wet Hot American Summer? Or perhaps an Apatow-ian version of One Crazy Summer, The Great Outdoors, or Meatballs.

It’s actually much, much smarter than that. It’s not so much a comedy as a coming of age story. There are laughs, for sure. Some big ones, even, but most of it is from subtle character commentary and reactions.

It utilizes a quintessential ’80s movie theme, however: a smart, young everyman who’s not confident with girls meets a cute, experienced, down to earth girl with problems at home. It’s more complicated than that, of course, and more realized than any comedy would portray.

However, the biggest differentiator from teen comedies is that these aren’t teens. We’re used to characters who have just graduated high school or are finishing senior year. But Adventureland‘s main character has just graduated college, and all the other characters are clearly over 21. Like in real life, this significantly changes the dynamics. It’s a refreshing change that makes it very easy for me to recommend this movie to adults. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

2 thoughts on “Adventureland Review (spoiler-free)”

  1. Great review for a great movie. I went in not knowing whether I’d like it or not, since I haven’t seen Superbad. But I can’t tell you how greatly surprised I was by how much I loved this movie. Like you, it was nice that everyone was out of college (or mostly), and the laughs were exquisitely balanced with the drama. It’s also a ‘first job’ comedy, which especially appealed to me in the ironic way it was treated, and unlike other period films, the 80s references didn’t seem contrived, even though it was shocking sometimes to see how much fashions have changed since then. Overall I’m actively recommending Adventureland to everyone in my generation, and will most surely buy the DVD.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I loved Superbad, it’s a hilarious high school buddy comedy. But it’s written by Seth Rogen and his writing partner (who started it when they were teenagers) and hence it’s a very different movie.

    The costumes were a hoot in Adventureland (even/esp. the ring tees they wore at work), and I should have mentioned that I really liked the soundtrack, too.

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