This particular Screening Suggestion is directed more to the specific audience who appreciates a good coming of age, teen angst comedy that's complete with a good dash of drama. To hint at the kind of thing you're in for, this is one of two written film projects from the director of 'Superbad' and 'Paul', Greg Mottola. In other words, one can expect some fairly low-brow comedy, but perhaps a different style as well. This holds water when you discover that a lot of this was apparently based on Mottola's real-life experiences while working at Adventureland Amusement Park in New York.
That said, I think the real-life attachment is mostly just a backdrop for the film, much like Kevin Smith's experiences ended up making 'Clerks' a thing. It's more about knowing how things work in the environment. Either way, it makes for a pretty good movie that, while not made in the 80s, highlights all of the charm of the 80s. That particular 80s aim goes into the overall plot as well, as there is something of a "Soap Opera"-ish tone to a lot of things happening here. However, fear not, because this is a comedy first. And rest assured that although people like to sit on the fence about its two leads, the supporting cast is made up of comedy superstars who really make it worth the time.
We kick off in 1987 when recent college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has plans to vacation in Europe upon graduation. However, his parents run into financial problems that amount to James having to get a summer job instead. Eventually, he finds work at the local Pittsburgh, PA amusement park, "Adventureland" where he'll at least be able to work with his old friend, Tommy Frigo (Matt Bush). It's not long before James runs into a spot of trouble during one of the carnival games he's helming, and he's rescued by another games worker named Emily (Kristen Stewart), and soon the two become close, but James feels his feelings just a little bit more.
As these things go, however, James finds himself in stiff competition with Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds); a married man who is having an active affair with Emily, obvious to the audience but not obvious to James. So most of this unfolding love triangle story relates to what I said before about this being for those who like a good teen-angsty comedy. But after all this, my readers are probably wondering what it is I do like about this movie, as it checks off so many things on the "Me No Like" list. To be truthful, actors Eisenberg and Stewart don't necessarily land on that list for me like they might for so many others. I believe anyone in the business has their hits and misses. And quite honestly, they have pretty good chemistry together.
The stand-out thing on the aforementioned "list" would, however, be the whole love triangle plot, which is usually a big "eye-roller" for me. And while even here that's kind of true, it's really all of the supporting cast that gives this movie its ultimate charm. Beyond who I've already mentioned, we also have park runners Bobby and Paulette (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, respectively), another games worker named Joel (Martin Starr, leaning a little towards his "Bill" character from 'Freaks and Geeks'), and this is incredibly random but even Josh Pais shows up (the dude who gave his voice to Raphael in the original 'Ninja Turtles' movie).
Aside from a good cast, however, I suppose there's a certain relatability factor here as well. I can actually see myself relating to James in a lot of different ways here, so I think there's something I understand on a certain level that makes this not just a love triangle story, but one aimed a little more towards me. I might not suggest that this is a classic of any sort, but it was an interesting movie that I found a lot of my peers latching onto at the time. Released in 2009, I would have been in my late 20s and to some degree, there was still a lot more relatability to the story. Nowadays, it's almost a nostalgic reminder of what it means to fall for who could be the wrong person. The whole thing is pretty bittersweet, really. But it does make for a decent summer romance story altogether.