It's the summer of 1987. James Brennan, having just graduated from Oberlin College, looks forward to a vacation in Europe with a friend and then graduate school at Columbia University. One little problem: after a financial setback, his parents can no longer afford to help him pay for either. What's a poor over-educated, under-experienced lit-major nerd
to do? Oh, get a grunt job at the arcade
in the eponymous "Adventureland
" amusement park. Hilarity Ensues
stars as Brennan, Kristen Stewart
co-stars as his primary love interest Emily "Em" Lewin. Ryan Reynolds
provides the Romantic False Lead
, one Mike Connell. Mike is a cool, Badass
coworker who leads a rock band in his spare time. It's said he once jammed with Lou Reed
While not a box office smash, this 2009 film received good reviews and gained a respectable fan following. Written and directed by Greg Mottola, who had previously directed Superbad
attempts a more realistic approach
, rather than relying on outlandish hijinks
Believe it or not, the "Adventureland" theme park on which the theme park is based actually exists. However, it is located on Long Island, New York. It can be found here
This film provides examples of:
- A Degree in Useless: Brennan tries to get a job in the beginning of the film, but no one hires him. He declares that his literature degree makes him "not even fit for manual labor". Joel majored in Russian literature and Slavic languages, and predicts that his careers include "cabby, hot dog vendor, marijuana delivery guy. The world is my oyster".
- All Drummers Are Animals: Munch
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: In Em's case, married bad boys.
- Anachronism Stew
- Ax-Crazy: Parodied. Bobby has an aluminum baseball bat, and he would love for you to give him a reason to use it (but it's just an act to keep the scariest customers at bay).
- Boy Meets Girl: Played straight with Brennan and Em.
- Brainless Beauty: Lisa P.
- Broken Bird: Em.
- Caught in the Rain: A common trope that actually leads up to a sweet, well-done ending.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Bobby and Paulette, the owners of Adventureland, slip into this more often than not
- Deadpan Snarker: Joel, Brennan (at times), and Connell.
- Double Standard: Conversed and defied by Brennan in a notable example. When Connell and Em's affair is brought to light, despite the fact Connell is married, its Em that everyone starts to shame and blame for it. Despite being hurt from her doing it, since he really liked Em, Brennan is pissed when Lisa P spouts this view.
- The Eighties: The film's setting, but played realistically.
- Good Bad Girl: Lisa P subverts this, twice. At first, it seems that she's playing it straight, until we find out that like Brennan, she's also a virgin. Then we find out that she's the one who spread the gossip that causes the big rift between Em and Brennan and that her views on sexuality and gender roles are rather reactionary.
- Good Times Montage: Post cookies on the dogems to Just Like Heaven.
- Groin Attack: Brennan's idiot classmate, Frigo, is very fond of punching him in the junk. It gets old real quick.
- Jerkass: Frigo, through and through. Not least because of all his junk-punching.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Somewhat played with concerning Connell; he gives James advise on everything and takes him under his wing, and in general appears to be a likable Nice Guy...who is also constantly cheating on his wife.
- Leitmotif: "Rock Me Amadeus" plays all the time in the park.
- Life Imitates Art: Eerily so, and on several levels, with Em: Kristen Stewart, like Em, was revealed to be having an affair with a married man (director Rupert Sanders) and some feminist blogs, like Brennan, pointed out that Stewart bore much of the criticism while Sanders (and other male celebrities who've been unfaithful) received much less backlash.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Em.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Why else would Brennan have gone after Em all the way to New York?
- Male Gaze: At least one long tracking shot of Lisa P.'s butt while Joel gushes about it in the background.
- Mr. Fanservice: It's Ryan Reynolds. Lampshaded to a certain extent, since he's the mysterious Badass musician everyone hears rumors about.
- Ms. Fanservice: Lisa P.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted: Brennan is not obsessed with losing his virginity. (Although he wouldn't mind.) He actually complains about this attitude.
- Maybe Ever After
- Pac Man Fever: Justified that it's an arcade in an amusement park in 1987, so there probably was a game of Donkey Kong in the background making that noise.
- Kennywood Amusement Park does continue to operate 1980's arcade games (and many machines even older than that) up to the present day.
- Never Trust a Trailer: From the ads, you'd think this was just another raunchy sex comedy. Unfortunately, this probably kept away many people who would have enjoyed it for the melancholy dramedy it is.
- Parent with New Paramour: Em resents her father for remarrying so quickly after her mother died. Her stepmother ultimately forces her father to kick Em out.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: It's Garden State... in Pittsburgh.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: "Satin Lives". Em attributes it to "One of those textile worshipping cults, no doubt."
- Also, there's a ride that's called The Flying Dutchman, inexplicably spelled "The Flighing Dutchman."
- Souvenir Land: The main setting and source of the title.
- Spiritual Sequel: It plays even better if you look at it as Freaks and Geeks: The Movie. It's only got one actor in common, but the style is almost exactly the same.
- Take Our Word for It: There's a very good reason Brennan found Em instantly on arriving in one the biggest cities in the world. We'll just never know what it is.
- Or he just asked her Dad.
- Visual Pun: "RIDES!" I'm not sure does anyone west of the Atlantic might get this, though. Or for that matter anyone east of the Irish Sea.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: The morning after James' whiskey binge.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Frigo puking on the back of James' dad's car.
- Your Cheating Heart: Mike and Em.