Greg Mottola Moves Past Period Jokes With Retro 'Adventureland'

We caught Adventureland this morning, the latest from Greg Mottola, a former TV director on shows like Undeclared and The Comeback who broke through in a big way with 2007's Superbad.

One of those nostalgia-pickled "lost summer" movies, Adventureland comes without the underdog backstory that typically fuels Sundance word of mouth. (Miramax funded the production and will release it at the end of March.) It's a well-pedigreed no-brainer that floats comfortably above the buzz, with a formidable cast of toking, bed-hopping Pittsburgh amusement park workers satelliting around our centerpiece couple, played by It-goth Kristen Stewart and The Squid and the Whale's Jesse Eisenberg.

Mottolla is clearly shooting for something closer to Dazed and Confused sentimentality this time around, so the raunch is turned down—there are no wacky menstrual blood jokes exchanged amongst these hormonally overcharged and articulate carnie-somethings. (Though some of the biggest laughs do come from the movie's McLovin: Eisenberg's nut-kneeing neanderthal friend, Frigo.)

That Mottola sets the story in 1987 seems incidental to the proceedings, save for a refreshing lack of text messaging and an amazing, overstuffed soundtrack featuring classics from The Replacements ("Bastards of The Young," "Willpower"), Lou Reed ("Coney Island Baby"), Brian Eno ("Taking Tiger Mountain"), Shannon ("Let The Music Play"), Nu Shooz ("I Can't Wait"), and one amusing recurring gag about "Rock Me Amadeus," which was to that summer what "Crazy in Love" was to 2003's.* Just a few more cultural references beyond what was on the radio could have made a big difference, however—like the dinner-table Dukakis debate did in Donnie Darko.

It's far from a classic, but without ever trying too hard, Adventureland really does deliver consistently from beginning to end, satisfying all those post-adolescent cinematic comfort food pangs that were still nagging at us at the end of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

One more thing: Mottola was a no-show at his own screening, so the Q&A never happened. What gives, dude? We skipped the inauguration for this.

*A reader points out "Amadeus" came out in '85, suggesting Mottola took some creative license with his song choice.