Donald Margulies on ‘Adventureland’

by Greg Mottola

My wife and I took our son to “Adventureland” on his 17th birthday, and it proved to be the perfect movie to see with one’s son on his 17th birthday. I found myself beaming through most of that movie, and monitored my son’s responses intermittently and saw that he was beaming too.

Adventureland” reminded me of the kind of sophisticated coming-of-age films I saw when I was around my son’s age (movies like “The Graduate” and “The Last Picture Show”) that Hollywood simply isn’t making anymore. As is the case with any writer whose work I respond to, I wanted to find out what else Greg Mottola had written. I discovered that he was responsible for another film I’d admired, the family road comedy “The Daytrippers,” a small gem from 1996. In “Adventureland,” he evoked the 1980s with tremendous verisimilitude and bittersweet affection. My adolescence was a decade before that, but the references and cultural references in the film still rang wonderfully true; it’s a test of the script’s power that it spoke to me and my 17-year-old son as well. Mottola’s screenplay captured the universality, the timelessness, of adolescent longing with a sweetness and honesty one rarely associates with the movies that pander to the youth of today.

Donald Margulies’ play ‘Time Stands Still’ opens on Broadway this month.

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