Movie Review: A24's While We're Young

While We're Young

Release Date: April 10th 2015
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Main Cast: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin, Adam Horovitz
Genres: Comedy | Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language
Studio: A24

Official Sites: Web | Facebook | IMDb
Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are Josh and Cornelia Srebnick, happily married middle-aged members of New York's creative class. They tried to start a family and were unable to — and have decided they’re okay with that. But as Josh labors over the umpteenth edit of his cerebral new film, it’s plain that he has hit a dry patch and that something is still missing.

Enter Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a free-spirited young couple, who are spontaneous and untethered, ready to drop everything in pursuit of their next passion — retro board games one day, acquiring a pet chicken the next. For Josh, it’s as if a door has opened back to his youth — or a youth he wishes he once had. It’s not long before the restless forty-somethings, Josh and Cornelia, throw aside friends their own age — including Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz in a sly supporting role — to trail after these young hipsters who seem so plugged in, so uninhibited, so Brooklyn cool. “Before we met,” Josh admits to Jamie, “the only two feelings I had left were wistful and disdainful.” But is this new inspiration enough to sustain collaboration and friendship with a couple twenty years their junior?

While We’re Young is an openly funny cross-generational comedy of manners about aging, ambition and success, as well as a moving portrait of a marriage tested by the invading forces of youth. No film has better captured the weird, upended logic of urban sophisticates: the older ones embracing their iPads and Netflix, the young ones craving vinyl records and vintage VHS tapes.

Powered by Stiller and Driver's note-perfect lead performances and loose, comic turns by Watts and Seyfried, While We’re Young is a complete pleasure to watch.

While We’re Young is the new Noah Baumbach dramedy about what happens to people who grow up only to realize that they are less than enamored with their lives. It’s important that you know this is a Baumbach film because Baumbach wrote, produced and directed the film. It’s a particular style of dry, biting comedy. It isn’t a “ha ha” funny, it’s more of a “ha snicker, snicker” funny. This kind of comedy is not for everyone, but I think that everyone can find some enjoyable parts in this coming of age. By age, I mean later age. Think mid-life crisis coming of age.

While We’re Young follows Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) at a cross-roads in their life. They are, in general terms, a successful, happily married forty-something couple. And, yet, something seems to be missing. Josh has hit roadblock on the production of his pet project. Cornelia may or may not lament that her and Josh remain childless. In come Jamie (Adam Driver) and Jamie (Amanda Seyfried) as the overly friendly, seem to have everything Josh and Cornelia want, new friends.

The film plays on the generational gaps. We see how the members of each of the generations view each other and for what each generation is longing. There is even an older generation represented by Leslie (Charles Grodin), the father-in-law of Josh. The young generation is shown to be longing the success enjoyed by the middle generation. The middle generation wants the freedom enjoyed by the young generation. And Leslie wants to stay true and relevant. I appreciated that the audience can see themselves in a little bit of all of the generations. I enjoyed how the old “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” is displayed at some point by all of the characters. Everyone thinks that everyone else has it better. So, I chuckled. I chuckled at the film, and at myself for occasionally falling victim to the grass is always greener concept.

The first half of the film was superb. There was a clear plot. I loved the script and the humor. I could relate to the characters. Really enjoyable. The second half of the film left me wanting more. The plot seemed to fall apart a little. Things got a little crazy. People started taking hallucinogens. Josh starts acting weird, and not because of the drugs, but because of some voyage of self-discovery. Suddenly, the voyage ends and I wasn’t sure if Josh had entirely discovered himself. The film left some issues unresolved.

Still, it’s a good film. If you enjoy Baumbach’s work, you will enjoy this. I enjoyed the cast. Ben Stiller is great in a lot of movies and it was good to see Charles Grodin on film. I can’t remember the last time he was in anything. He still has it. Also, look for Ryan Serhant! He’s a native Texan and fellow Houstonian. If you follow reality TV, he’s on one of the real-estate shows. He has a bit part as a hedge fund manager, and he did a great job. Don’t take my word on this film, go check out While We’re Young when it opens this Friday.

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