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Rollercoaster of Love :: Adventureland by Carrie Rollwagen

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Movie Review :: Carrie Rollwagen

“We pay little Malaysian kids ten cents an hour to make these toys, we can’t just give them away.” — Joel

I’ve been asked if Adventureland is “Superbad Funny.” As much as I love Superbad (and Role Models, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), not every movie has to make my face hurt from laughing. I’d say Adventureland is more “Dazed and Confused Funny” … and that’s a good thing.

In this love story/coming of age tale set in the era of Reaganomics and Husker Du, James is a fresh college graduate who’s planned to spend his summer in Europe before attending graduate school at Columbia. But when his father gets a drastic pay cut, James has to take a summer job at a local theme park to save for school.

The film brings out the strange camaraderie that comes from working with a group of people all struggling for minimum wage, the struggles and humor of working for an independent, and the good and bad parts of a complicated relationship.

It boasts a great ensemble cast full of characters rich with their own lives and stories. And the costuming and set design make the eighties feel nostalgic, not tacky (if Kristen Stewart can bring back jelly bracelets, I’ll forgive her for getting to Rob Pattinson first).

I love that Adventureland develops the female characters as well as the male. Kristen Stewart’s character, Em, has a backstory that actually makes sense, saving her from the Manic Pixie Dream Girl stereotype. Even quintesential hot girl Lisa P. is more than eye candy.

Adventureland made me miss both my 80s jean shorts (cutoffs with the cuffs rolled up, thanks very much) and my days laboring in the stale office of an independent bookstore. It’s funny enough to be enjoyable and has enough real-life pain (or angst, anyway) to make it authentic.

Plus, I got to indulge the secret crush I’ve had on Martin Starr ever since Bill played Seven Minutes in Heaven on Freaks and Geeks.

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