Director Greg Mottola rose to prominence with his laugh-out-loud, raunchy teen comedy Superbad. It was the sort of R-rated teen comedy that we never knew we needed. While most people expected his follow-up to be much in the same vein, Adventureland proved to be vastly different if not just as enjoyable. Involving a coming-of-age tale starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart, it was light on the knee-slapping hijinks and heavy on the heartwarming and mature character-driven story.
If you’re a big fan of Adventureland like us, check out these coming-of-age films to enjoy next:
1. The Way, Wack Back
Written and directed by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (The Descendants) The Way, Way Back is a superb and warm comedy about a teenager who takes a summer trip with his family, including his new stepfather. He ends up making friends in the oddest of places and begins to gain some much needed confidence and self-assurance. There are some terrific performances in The Way, Way Back, especially from future Oscar winner Sam Rockwell. The story feels a lot like Adventureland but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it makes a wonderful double feature with Greg Mottola’s comedy.
2. The Kings of Summer
Another coming-of-age comedy about young boys becoming men, The Kings of Summer revolves around three boys who leave the stress and hassle of family life behind to spend their days in the woods with each other. You’ll find a lot of similarities with Adventureland including the idea of teens growing up, young romance and the uncertainty of the future. While director Jordan Vogt-Roberts owes a lot to Greg Mottola and other directors who paved the way before, it’s most definitely a worthy addition to the genre.
Bringing a dose of more out-and-out comedy than the other entries on our list, Superbad has much in common with Adventureland — and not just the fact that both are directed by the same man. It essence it’s a story of two friends growing up and growing apart. It examines that important and life-changing time of adolescence when it’s time to grow up and put childish things behind. Of course, Superbad does that with a slew of R-rated jokes and gags. While it’s a supremely fun and hilarious movie, that wouldn’t mean much if it didn’t have so much heart.
4. Almost Famous
Taking place in the 1970s, Almost Famous follows a young man who is sent on tour with the fictional rock band Stillwater. It’s on the road that he grows up in some major ways and learns a lot about love, life and the power of music. Heavily based on Crowe’s real-life experiences working for Rolling Stone, the movie definitely feels like it’s grounded in reality. The people feel real, the story authentic and the memories feel so, so precious. This one is a masterpiece.
Next up we have Jason Reitman’s breakout hit – Juno. The movie that launched Ellen Page’s career into the spotlight, it also kickstarted the career of renowned screenwriter Diablo Cody. It has a lot in common with Adventureland and other movies listed above but it has one important thing that sets it apart: a female protagonist. Juno is about a young, hip girl who gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby. Juno isn’t your typical teen girl and Page plays her to perfection. The rest of the cast is stellar too, including a fantastic Jennifer Garner and a scene-stealing Michael Cera. There’s a reason Juno was an Oscar contender: because it’s terrific.
6. Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused remains one of our favorite movies from the 1990s. The cast is second-to-none, featuring many A-listers in their first onscreen roles. The story is simple enough: a group of high schoolers cut loose and look for fun and mischief on the first night of summer vacation in the late 1970s. The movie feels similar to Adventureland when it comes to the realistic and laid back characters and the lazy feel of summer. But it also feels different too. The movie is rich with a diverse and well-developed group of characters, not focusing on any one. It’s a bird’s eye view of the dog days of summer and that feeling you had when you were young and your whole life was ahead of you.
7. The Spectacular Now
And last but not least we have James Ponsoldt’s fantastic coming-of-age story – The Spectacular Now. It has laughs, of course, but it is heavy on the drama and is an in-depth examination of young love and the pains of growing up. The Spectacular Now has a killer cast and features some wonderful supporting turns from Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It’s a gentle and heartfelt dramedy that is all-too-relatable to anyone who was ever young and in love.