Adventureland : 4 of 5

My pals and I went to see Adventureland last weekend, and I think all of us were expecting this movie to be something like Superbad, mainly due to the trailer and the roles filled by Saturday Night Live folks. It turned out to be completely different, and actually much better than I had hoped, and I really enjoyed this nostalgic and believable story! The plot follows James, a hopelessly academic college grad who ends up working at a run-down amusement park during the summer of 1987, as he makes friends, falls in love, and learns about life in unexpected ways. Even though the characters can easily fall into categories, they all seemed genuine to me and revealed so many details about themselves that they reminded me of high school friends I actually knew back in the 80s. Of course, there's plenty of 80s music to keep the time period straight, and even the park itself is full of crappy rides that I remember vividly from going to state fairs (although the midway games have some pretty hilarious names like "Hats Off to Larry"). Most of the story revolves around a love story with a cool, understandably messed-up girl, but I loved the way the plot makes each of the other characters essential - they all help each other grow in different ways (just like real life). One thing this movie is not is hilarious, regardless of how the trailer spins it - it's much more like a well-made, easygoing after-school special than anything. I had a nice, relaxing experience watching Adventureland, which stirred up fun memories as well as appreciation for the way life shapes us into who we are. Even though it's not a full-on comedy, there are still some nice laughs along the way!

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