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[Rating: 3/5]

By Willie Krischke – August 18, 2009

I saw Greg Mottola’s name on this film and thought “Superbad” — raunchy, goofy, pretty funny in parts, but light as a feather and desperate to please. So I was not ready for the depths of melancholy that float just under the comedy in “Adventureland” — and frequently rise to the top.

Jesse Eisenberg is a recent college grad with big plans involving Europe and grad school at Columbia. But his dad loses his job, the money dries up, and he finds himself trying to find a job with “Renaissance Studies” on his resume. He ends up at a second-rate amusement park, surrounded by a bunch of losers, led by veteran loser Bill Hader and the always-odd Kristen Wiig.

The losers include Martin Starr, playing a (somewhat) grownup version of his “Freaks & Geeks” character.  Starr was comedic gold in that series, and it’s fun to see him given more to do here than grow hair and endure insults, as he did in “Knocked Up.”  Also working at the park is the smoldering Kristen Stewart.   Now I know I’m supposed to hate Kristen Stewart, because she was in “Twilight,”  and I’m contractually obligated to hate that movie. But she really steals the show here. She brings a lot of depth to a good-looking twentysomething who’s trying hard to believe, against all evidence, that her life is not going to be one asshole boyfriend and dead-end job after another.

Of course Eisenberg falls for her, and of course he needs to save her.   She needs to be saved by a nice guy.   And “Adventureland” ought to feel trite, but Stewart really taps into something here. By the end, I’m pretty convinced that there are beautiful girls out there struggling with despair, needing to be rescued by nice guys like Eisenberg. Maybe I’m a sucker. Go figure.

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