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Movie Review: Adventureland

Alternate Title: Sweet Bird of Youth

Story: That summer in between college and graduate school is a time when many young people go off to explore the world before taking that giant step into adulthood. Poor James - his planned trip to Europe has been canceled by his father's economic downturn. Not only is his trip off but his entry into Columbia Journalsim School in the fall is also in jeopardy. What's a kid to do who has never really held a job? He gets a summer gig at Adventureland and the magic begins. This charming, often funny, nostalgic movie, that takes place in the Pittsburgh of 1987, was written and directed by Greg Mottola (Daytrippers, Superbad).

I enjoyed this film because it was smart, sweet and never goes over the edge into cliches or that eye-rolling 'coming of age' predictability. The characters are real, three dimensional and I cared for each and every one of them. This is a movie that will resonate with all ages. Mottola, writing from his own experience, introduces some universal truths about growing pains that works on many levels.

Take a few hours out and go see this charmer. I am sure you will walk out smiling. I did.
Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F--nHysJkw

Here is where I spent my youth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKq1XpuhFYQ

Acting: Jesse Eisenberg as sweet James Brennan is a pure delight. Kristen Stewart as Em, does a fine job as the object of desire. Martin Starr as Joel, is wonderful as is Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Margarita Levieva, Jack Gilpin, Wendie Malick and Ryan Reynolds as Mike Connell. Terrific casting all around.

Trivia: Greg Mottola grew up in a Catholic family and received his BFA in art from Carnegie Mellon University and MFA in film from Columbia University. Jesse Eisenberg is the brother of Hallie Kate Eisenberg and starred in The Squid and the Whale. Kristen Stewart starred in Twilight and Into the Wild. Bill Hader's "Saturday Night Live" (1975) audition was him performing impressions of Al Pacino, James Mason, Tony Blair, and Peter Falk as Vinnie Vedecci, his Italian talk-show host character. Margarita Levieva is a Russian Jew and was a member of the Russian rhythmic gymnastics Olympic team. She studied Economics at New York University. Ryan Reynolds is married to Scarlett Johansson.

Predilection: None

Critters: Surprisingly none.

Food: Marginally rancid Corn dogs are featured.

Sex Spectrum: Some fumbling in the back seats of cars.

Soundtrack: Very funny

Opening Titles: A fine sequence that introduces us very quickly to young James' dilemma.

Visual Art: It really felt as if it was 1987 without going to a costume shop.

Weather: It was a fine summer in Pittsburgh.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: It was a perfect length for a film and I was interested in all the characters to pay full attention.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Either will do but it is always better on the big screen.

Length: Under two hours.