“Adventureland” exceeds expectations

Wow… I was not expecting this in any way. Just wow… I had been looking forward to “Adventureland” since I saw its debut trailer on www.rottentomatoes.com, and it’s safe to say that the movie far exceeded my expectations. The movie is written and directed by Greg Mottola, who also directed Superbad, and while the trailer sets it up to be another shallow-esque comedy in vein of Mottola’s previous hit, it actually turns out to be something completely different and a whole lot more satisfying.

“Adventureland” follows recent college grad and overall nice guy James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), who, after his post-graduation plans get curtailed due to finance issues, is forced to work at a local amusement park by his parents’ house. Soon after his work begins at Adventureland, James meets Emily “Em” Lewin (Kristen Stewart), who takes a liking to him. The movie focuses on the rocky relationship between James and Em, who under James’ nose is secretly meeting up with the park’s handyman Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds).

The movie provides a good amount of laughs, like the trailer suggests, but does not centralize itself around comedy. Yes, the comedy duo of Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the park’s co-managers is hilarious, but the real meat of the film comes from the incredibly involving relationship of James and Em. Their relationship, though it only takes place over the course of one summer (so far), is so incredibly immersive it’s breathtaking.

Despite the fact that the awkward teenager character recently introduced and mastered by Michael Cera is becoming so prevalent among movies it’s nauseating, Eisenberg does a fantastic job of giving this repeated character some new moves and an engaging personality. Even better than Eisenberg, however, is Stewart, his partner in the film. Stewart’s acting in this film is beyond description; she deserves an Oscar for her role as Em, as she does a better job relaying emotions to the audience than any other actress I’ve seen do in awhile, or arguably, ever. The bond between these two characters is absolute movie magic, something that only occurs once every couple of years yet is completely unforgettable.

Perhaps what makes these two characters so compelling is that they’re so relatable. These aren’t unrealistic characters in some far off world the director decided to slap a sappy love story to, no, these characters are two people in your neighborhood who happened to find love in the overtly exciting, yet depressing world of the local amusement park… and you care.

“Adventureland” is currently tied with “The Wrestler” as my favorite movie of 2009 so far, as its nostalgia filled setting and plot make it a more engaging and relatable film than any other one I have ever seen. I highly recommend anyone and everyone to go see this movie as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.