COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 47min

STARRING: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds

Fair play: Eisenberg and Stewart

It’s karmically screwed enough that shy, bookish — And virginal! At 22! — college grad James Brennan (Eisenberg, transcending nerdhood for a fully felt performance) can’t afford a seminal trip to Europe. Worse yet, the only summer gig he can come up with is as a game operator at a seamy Pittsburgh amusement park. Is this the world’s most dreadful job? Yes and no. The work is moronic and the pay a joke. But there’s something about the lackadaisical bravura of a small-beer carnival that spells Rite of Passage with Smiles in sparkly, coloured lights.


Besides, how many down-at-heel amusement parks have arcade girls like smart and secretive cookie Em Lewin (Twilight ’s Stewart)? It’s too bad Em is all mixed up with Adventureland’s married loser maintenance guy (Reynolds), whose main claim to fame is that he may once have jammed with Lou Reed.


Film-maker Greg Mottola, the directorial brains behind Superbad, plays it straighter this time out. But he’s lost none of his edge on the absurd or his ease with the mixing of moods.