Part of the attraction to nostalgia is knowing. It's the innate recognition of the time, the place, the sensations and the sentiments. It's memory reconfigured as reality, yet filtered so as to remain sparkling. When done right, such wistfulness is winning and wise. Done poorly, and it's merely a period piece implausibility. For writer/director Greg Mottola, the late '80s represent the final act in a sort of social innocence, a time when even college kids had to ask Mom and Dad for the family car. After the wild success of Superbad, the filmmaker is back with his homage to one significant summer -- Adventureland -- and it turns out to be an early 2009 favorite.
For graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), life is just not turning out right. His parents promised to fund his planned trip to Europe. Instead, they hit him with the horrible news: They cannot afford to pay his way. Even worse, Columbia University grad school may be out as well. Forced to get a summer job, James winds up at Adventureland, a pathetic Pennsylvania amusement park run by Bobby (Bill Hader), his slightly dense wife Paulette (Kristen Wiig), and a rogue's gallery of social rejects including uber-nerd Joel (Martin Starr), arrested adolescent Tommy Frigo (Matt Bush), and musician turned handyman Connell (Ryan Reynolds). James also meets Em (Kristen Stewart), a like-minded gal with dreams of something bigger. As their relationship blossoms, our hero gains a greater perspective on life, living, and what's truly important.
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