By Erik Davis (original publication date: 1/20/09 -- Sundance Film Festival)
Adventureland is and isn't everything I expected it to be. First off, no matter what the trailer may show you, this is in no way Superbad, circa 1987 -- so get that out of your head now. Adventureland is, instead, a sometimes subtle dramedy that's more touchy-feely than it is funny. With more in common with writer-director Greg Mottola's The Daytrippers, Adventureland is a moody late-eighties time capsule whose parts explode on the screen and shoot out in several different directions before landing, together, in a pile of mixed emotions.
James (Jesse Eisenberg) is an inexperienced brainiac who's looking forward to spending his summer before college traveling through Europe. With the trip planned right down to the last penny, James is informed by his stiff parents that the nine hundred bucks he was supposed to receive as a graduation present won't be arriving in his pockets anytime soon since dad was forced to take a major pay cut at work. So, instead of discovering himself abroad, James is forced to find a summer job to help pay for his expensive Ivy League school in the fall. When his skinny frame and intellectual persona find him rejected from almost every job out there, James reluctantly takes an opening at the Adventureland theme park in the games division.