Tagline: Nothing brings people together like a crappy summer job.
Synopsis: In 1987, James Brennan's dreams of a summer European tour before studying at an Ivy League school in New York City are ruined after his parents have a severe career setback. As a result, James must get a summer job to cover his upcoming expenses at the decrepit local amusement park, Adventureland, where he falls in love with a witty co-worker, Emily Lewin. In that bizarrely shady workplace, the young carnies have unforgettable and painful learning experiences about life, love and trust while James discovers what he truly values.
Round-up: Most critics seemed to be quite surprised to find a much more heartfelt entry from Mottola after the often crass "Superbad." NPR's Nathan Lee calls the film the "most delicately buoyant roma... nce since Richard Linklater's masterly Before Sunset." The Village Voice's Scott Foundas was even also quite won over: "I've seen Mottola's movie twice, and both times, it has inspired feelings of joy, sadness, and a profound yearning for the unrecoverable past. Maybe I'm projecting too much false nostalgia onto this modest but poignant Gen-X touchstone, if not the '80s themselves. Or maybe, you just had to be there." The nostalgia worked for New York's David Edelstein. "'Adventureland' hits home—at least my home," he wrote. "Mottola pumps up the soundtrack with music—The Replacements, Hüsker Dü—I listen to when I want that old eighties feeling. I actually have a James-like impulse to blab about my identification with the movie’s needy, overintellectualizing hero: I could feel in my bones his self-disgust as he lay on his bed in his parents’ house, alienated from their values and lifestyle yet comfortable, too. (He doesn’t have to pay rent.) What makes the movie such an unexpectedly potent little number is that Adventureland comes to stand for Stagnationland; the real roller coaster (i.e., life) is just outside the park." "Adventureland" does have its (relative) detractors. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers says the film "throws a lot at us, but not enough of it sticks," while The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris says: "'Adventureland' means to provide a clearer sense of what "A film by Greg Mottola" means. But the forecast is 'hazy with a chance of cute.' It's the sort of flavorless, willfully quirky, occasionally amusing slice of suburban boredom that, for years, has given the Sundance Film Festival its soft, gooey center." Though neither review is entirely negative, and their criticisms are certainly in the minority.