"Adventureland" (2009) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #55 Gem Mint 10.0

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

“Adventureland“ (2009)

Director: Greg Mottola

Writer: Greg Mottola

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Reynolds, Margarita Levieva, Martin Starr, Matt Bush

Rated: R for language, drug use and sexual references

Runtime: 1h 47min

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

In the summer of 1987, a college graduate takes a 'nowhere' job at his local amusement park, only to find it's the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world.

You might like this if you like: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, "Superbad" (2007), "Dazed and Confused" (1993) high school movies, comedies, dramedies, romantic comedies, carnivals/fairs, Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, "Saturday Night Live", Jonah Hill, and maybe some Woody Allen MOVIES (not the person, just the movies)

Jesse Eisenberg (left) and Kristen Stewart (right) in "Adventureland" (2009)

One of my favorite films of all time. I saw this in theaters in Ventura, CA back in 2009. “Superbad” (2007) was right off from being a hit, and if you don’t know by now I am the Apatow crew’s biggest fans, so I was ready to see the next film by Greg Motolla. “Superbad” (2007) always soared above the rest of the comedies in so many ways that I will need to write a full review for… Greg Motolla instantly became a huge favorite of mine as well as so many other newcomers (for me at the time) like Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

It’s funny to me to think this came before “The Social Network” (2010) where Jesse Eisenberg hit hard. This is my favorite film and performance he’s been in. It’s a sweet, heartbreaking and hilarious comedy but he does such a good job at your ordinary leading man the cliches feel like they disappear.

Adventureland” (2009 has one of the best / favorite casts of all time especially for a comedy. Apatow favorites like Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig and Martin Starr. Ryan Reynolds before I really knew who he was.

Bill Hader (left) & Kristen Wiig (right) in "Adventureland" (2009)

Even Jesse Eisenberg. I’m starting to wonder if this was the first thing I ever saw him in.. “Zombieland” (2009) came out the same year so it could’ve been one or the other. I know I saw both in theaters. I’m always a fan of whatever he does. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) as Lex Luthor and “The End of the Tour” (2015) with Jason Segel. “Art of Self Defense” (2019). I’ll stop there for him.

Watching Bill Hader & Kristen Wiig as a comedy duo in this is just too much fun! I’m a massive “Saturday Night Live” fan and adore the era they were a part of. Bill is so wild in this and Kristen just kills it. They make such a hilarious, believable couple. I feel like I’ve seen those characters in real life somewhere.

Jesse Eisenberg (left) and Martin Starr (right) in "Adventureland" (2009)

Martin Starr has been a forever favorite since TV’s “Freaks and Geeks” (1999), “Knocked Up” (2007) and even a small role in “Superbad” (2007). Of course he got a nice leading role in “Silicon Valley” on HBO and is in both of Marvel's/Sony’s/Tom Holland’ s “Spider-Man” (2017-2019) films now but at the time was an underrated gem. I still think Martin Starr deserves to be in more films. He’s one of my favorite human beings. “Amira and Sam” (2014) is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen can see my review for it here: https://www.samgallmoviereviews.com/post/amira-sam-2014-sam-gall-s-movie-review-issue-22-gem-mint-10-0

Ryan Reynolds (left) and Kristen Stewart (right) in "Adventureland" (2009)

This was also the movie that completely changed my view on Kristen Stewart. All I knew her from was “Twilight” (2005-2012) and she was so real and honest in this it’s by far my favorite of her performances as well. Everyone’s so great in this film, every little character I love.

Martin Starr (left), Jesse Eisenberg (middle) & Kristen Stewart (right) in "Adventureland" (2009)

The music is timely, that opening just sucks me right in. I think it’s shot beautifully for a comedy, same way I feel about how Motolla directed “Superbad” (2007), but at the same time it’s very dark drama that hits home for me. I remember seeing it at a time when I was going through something similar that Eisenberg’s character was and I guarantee I was alone crying and laughing in that theater. One of many times. That was one of my favorite things was to go alone to the movies, get lost, listen to the crowd and ironically feel all the less alone for a few hours.

Jesse Eisenberg in "Adventureland" (2009)

One of my favorite comedies, dramas, dramedies, Apatow crew films (believe he was thanked in the credits along with Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg) and just an overall touching piece of cinema that is glowing with laughs and joy. Captures a youthful time in life and navigating through love.

Written by Sam Gall on 09/26/20

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

"Mottola strikes a pitch-perfect balance between drama and comedy, summing up the hopes and dreams of those in that final transitional period into the real world." - Matthew Lucas, The Dispatch (Lexington, NC)

"Adventureland is written and directed by Greg Mottola, the director of the raunchy bromance Superbad, but with this film, he has given us something more personal and, at the same time, more universal." - Kelly Jane Torrance, Washington Times

"A film so tuned in to the pre-collegiate experience that scenes which play as comedy to some audiences will land as harrowing tragedy to others." - Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

"The messages -- about silver linings in lousy jobs, the collision of hormones and heartstrings, and the adventure of discovering who you really are and what you really want -- ring honest and true, for any era." - Neil Pond, American Profile

"Adventureland is reminiscent of indie movies like Breaking Away, Dazed and Confused and Clerks. You could put it another way and say it's not very original. Yet, watching the movie, you're too swept up in James's problems to care." - London-Evening Standard

"...a comedy so human it is tragic." - Daniel Kasman, MUBI

Official Trailer:

Available to watch on various VOD sites like Amazon & Hulu

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