Step 1: Take Zombieland
Step 2: Remove the zombies
Step 3: Replace Emma Stone with Kristen Stewart
Step 4: Replace Woody Harrelson with Ryan Reynolds
Then you have Adventureland.
Well, more or less.
The film is set in 1987 and based on the real life experiences of Greg Mottola (director of Superbad), when he worked in an amusement park. Jesse Eisenberg stars as James Brennan, who is trying to earn some money to go to Colombia University at the end of the summer. Taking the only job available, a grunt in Adventureland, he soon falls for co-worker Emily Lewin (played by Kristen Stewart). The only problem is Emily is having an affair with local legend Mike Cornell (played by Ryan Reynolds), so it all gets a bit complicated.
It’s a funny, enjoyable coming-of-age story, that tries to capture the feel of being young in the 1980s, but without satirising it or putting in knowing jokes which break the spell.
This sort of role is Jessee Eisenberg’s bread and butter so is great in it. Kristen Stewart also puts in a performance as the surly, rebellious teen which is her default setting. Ryan Reynolds gets to play a bit of a bastard and does it well, though being predisposed to disliking him it might be my warped view. There is also a tidy role for Martin Starr, another great and under-rated actor playing to type. He is a bit underutilised here, but doing so would make the film too long.
It’s a bit more subdued than Zombieland, with fewer hearty laughs, but is a nice companion piece and would make a good double feature.