Written by Kenny Fischer
Mottola is three for three. I loved THE DAYTRIPPERS. It was a wonderful and intelligent character comedy. I, along with the rest of planet earth, loved SUPERBAD as well. I think he has a great grasp of character and tone. There's something charmingly small about his movies. They never get large in scope. They aren't high concept. They're "hang out movies."
He disappeared for a decade after THE DAYTRIPPERS, directing some great television in the mean time, and now he's back and could amost be called prolific (if you consider that PAUL is ramping up at this very moment). If the progression from SUPERBAD to ADVENTURELAND is any indication of where he's headed and how he's going to evolve as a filmmaker, then we're in for a lot of awesome.
ADVENTURELAND is a comedy that isn't always trying to make you laugh. The success of individual scenes or sequences isn't based on whether or not they end with a huge laugh. Everything hinges on the characters. As I said, this is a "hang out movie." Like DAZED AND CONFUSED. Like JACKIE BROWN. Like SUPERBAD. And where Mottola's previous movies took place over the span of one night, this film follows an entire summer.
Jesse Eisenberg plays a college grad who planned on going to Europe for the summer. When he finds out his parents are broke, he has to get a summer job at an amusement park...called ADVENTURELAND. From there it becomes an ensemble comedy about your first summer job and your first true love. Everything about the movie works amazingly. The soundtrack. The characters. The comedy. The romance. Everything.
The best thing about the movie is how every character is a shade of gray. Kristen Stewart's character is flawed, fleshed out, likable, and tortured. Ryan Reynolds isn't a bad guy, he's just pathetic and sad. The movie never takes any cliche turns. It lets everything grow organically from the characters and tone. There would have been some easy choices, even choices that would create more conflict, but everything about this movie just felt right to me.
This is a warm, beautiful, and funny comedy. I wish there were more like it. Oh, and Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are geniuses.