In 2009, a small indie movie titled Adventureland was released. It was Greg Mottola’s next movie after Superbad. He told The Independent Critic that “Adventureland was a more autobiographical story of his experiences in the ’80s, working one summer in the park.” The movie had an incredible cast, and was nominated for the Gotham Independent Film Awards for Best Ensemble Cast Award. In the thirteen years since the movie, the cast, full of young actors, has done very well for themselves. There have been a couple of Best Actor and Actress Academy Award nominations, a superhero who destroyed the box office, an actor, writer, and director of one of the best shows on TV right now, and the writer and leading women of one of the best comedies of the 2010s. Let’s see where they’re today.
Adventureland was the first leading role in Jesse Eisenberg‘s career. He plays James Brennan, who has to spend the summer working in the park to save some money for grad school. Brennan is one of Eisenberg’s best performances: smart, but full of awkwardness, and falling in love with the most interesting girl in the park.
Since this role, Eisenberg has had an eclectic career, mixing box office successes with smaller, quirkier projects; always playing smart, neurotic, and talkative characters. He’s been a surprising hero in Zombieland; a comic villain in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and a real-life villain in The Social Network (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor). In the last few years, Eisenberg has also started working behind the camera: he’s a playwright and has just directed his first film: When You Finish Saving the World.
Kristen Stewart plays Em, the enigmatic girl who likes Brennan, but whose life is a mess (or at least she feels like it is). She’s having an affair with a married man, her dad and stepmother don’t understand her, and she’s a bit lost. Her chemistry with Eisenberg is great, and was replayed years later in American Ultra.
During the shooting of this movie, Stewart got the leading role in a certain vampire movie. One that changed her career and made her a superstar with tweens. After Twilight, she started doing more indie and daring movies, working with unique directors and creating a film career, that many would like to emulate. She’s had great performances in movies like Into the Wild, Happiest Season, Clouds of Sils Maria, or Personal Shopper, that show her versatility as an actor. Her best acting, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award last year, was in Spencer, where she embodied Princess Diana. Her most recent movie is with one of the most unique directors working today: David Cronenberg.
In Adventureland, Ryan Reynolds plays the park’s handyman. He’s also a musician, and a big fish in a small pond. There’s a rumor that he played with Lou Reed once. He’s a married man and feels his best years have passed him by, while he’s having affairs with younger women from the park. In this movie, Reynolds shows a different side of the actor; not just a sarcastic and extra role, and has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Since then, he has become a massive movie star, appearing in many great movies. He’s been a superhero twice (Green Lantern and Deadpool). His sarcastic, talkative roles have become his bread and butter, and he has done those kinds of roles in all types of genres: rom-coms (The Proposal), action movies (6 Underground and Red Notice), and fun, box office successes (Free Guy). While we wait for the next Deadpool (the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), we can see Reynolds in his last Netflix movie: The Adam Project.
In Adventureland, Bill Hader plays the boss. He’s corny and weird, and his mustache does a big part of the acting for him. This movie was from the time he was becoming a Saturday Night Life staple, as he was still a bit player with a couple of funny scenes.
In the last thirteen years, his career has changed immensely. He left SNL after doing some of the most viral characters, and became a movie actor with great performances. His best role has been in the HBO show, Barry. It’s his show, as he writes it, directs it, and stars in it, showing a lot more layers in Hader’s career. The third season just ended in an episode that was just as stressful as it was thrilling.
Kristen Wiig plays Paulette, Bobby’s (Bill Hader) wife. It’s a small role, as she’s timid, weird, and supportive, recreating a great comedic duo with her SNL colleague. As with Hader, in 2009, Wiig was still getting known by everyone as one of the best comedic performers on Saturday Night Live. She became a movie star after writing and leading one of the funniest movies of the 2010s, Bridesmaids. She’s done voice work (Sausage Party), fun appearances in her friends’ shows (The Last Man on Earth) and more intense roles (The Skeleton Twins), while she keeps writing comedies she acts in (Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar) creating a career that keeps surprising us. We just saw her last show, MacGruber, where she’s as funny as usual.
Martin Starr plays Joel, Brennan’s best friend in the park. He’s smart, sarcastic, and not good with women. A role Starr has played before and after, infusing them with a soulful layer and a lot of heart. You believe he has an incredible inner life. Mottola told cinema.com that Starr’s character was based on people he knew: “That person’s smarter than me, more talented than me; why are they so stuck? Why are they not moving ahead?”
Since Adventureland was released, Starr has played many characters in a mold similar to this one in both cinema and TV (sometimes geekier, sometimes more toxic) and is always nailing them. His two most known roles are as Roman in Party Down and as Gilfoyle in Silicon Valley. He’s also been part of the Apatow cast in many of his movies. Starr is reprising his role as Roman in the Party Down revival, and we can’t wait to see how the years have treated that unique character.