Adventureland movie review - Aussieboyreviews


While there’s certainly a terrific sense of humour playing a role in many sequences, Adventureland mainly shines in its serious and dramatic outlooks. It’s an average film starring Jesse Eisenberg that unexpectedly takes a turn after the midpoint.


In the summer of 1987, a college graduate takes a job at his local amusement park in order to save up for a long-awaited trip to Europe. However, he ends up falling in love with one of his co-workers and learns about love, life and trust.

Movie Images

Movie details

Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, Margarita Levieva
Writer: Greg Mottola
Release Date (Australia): 28 May 2009
Runtime: 107 minutes/1h 47m
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Country: USA
Language: English

CONTENT GUIDE (warning: May contain spoilers)

Themes (PG)

The film contains themes of infidelity, crude humour and features a scene in which a character crashes his car whilst driving under the influence of alcohol.

Violence (PG)

The film contains scenes of violence in which male characters are punched in the groin by other characters.

Coarse Language (M)

The film contains use of the words “f**k”, “s**t”, “ass”, “p***y” and “f****t”.

Drug Use (M)

The film contains moderate drug references throughout and multiple scenes of marijuana use.

Sex (M)

The film contains multiple verbal and visual sexual references throughout.

mpaa rating

R (for language, drug use and sexual references)

Aussie boy's thoughts

My expectations for Adventureland were slowly declining as the film begins as another generic romance comedy-drama focused on a very average guy who starts working at a theme park. What makes this movie so surprising and sole-stirring for me however, is the unexpected direction the film took in the second half and the third act. And one of the main reasons why it worked so well was truly as a result of its standout performances. Jesse Eisenberg plays a college graduate who takes a job at his local amusement park during the summer of 1987 in order to save up for a long-awaited trip to Europe. But he ends up learning about love, life and trust.

Firstly, I have to make a confession. Purely based on my own personal desires and appreciations, I will admit that Adventureland automatically scores a few solid points in my rating for one of its regular locations: an amusement park. An area in which the movie really shines is during its moments occupied in the park. Watching the characters as staff members interact with each other whilst they’re on shift together makes for extremely entertaining and very sweet segments, and I personally would easily watch a 107-minute movie that’s just that. It’s not a casual supermarket or clothes store; people all around are having fun, playing carnival games and going on rides.

The lively location and quirked-up characters also brings me to discussing the comedic aspect, because despite a lot of attempts at jokes that don’t land well, Adventureland possesses its hilarious moments and guarantees every viewer an audible chuckle somewhere. There’s a fantastic sequence once Jesse Eisenberg applies and gets the job working in some of the game booths and stalls; he’s taken around by a trainer who explains to him how all of these impossible-to-beat games are cleverly rigged. It’s the perspective that makes these scenes such a hoot!

I would say the main criticisms I have for the film are only really present throughout the first hour. Adventureland kicks off as this very standard coming-of-age kind of narrative with quite a strong focus on romance and crushes, often falling for those drowsy clichés we’ve gotten bored of seeing. There’s an overload of scenes in which the lead character, James, and the girl he’s fallen in love with become closer, and closer, and it just becomes awkward and tiring. There’s a point in which the romantic aspect does become mildly complicated and pressuring, but it’s sort of just blown off, becoming nothing.

Where a step up in originality was finally taken is when the romance becomes a new form of complex drama that I never anticipated would happen after a very generic first hour. The film goes in a completely different direction that genuinely caught me off guard, and also impressed me. It’s why I’d say that Kristen Stewart gives the most pronounced and compelling performance in the film. Adventureland centres on romance to begin with, but meanwhile, it’s setting up another plot between her and another character. Her character slowly begins to become kind of off-putting, especially when secretive stuff is revealed about her character. I won’t dive into spoilers, because I think that this movie is worth watching and it becomes very intriguing at a certain point. But it leads me to call it a romance movie with bits of comedy, but it’s also a solid drama with good performances.

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