While We’re Young (2015) Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts Written and directed by Noah Baumbach Writer and director Noah Baumbach continues to be both fascinated and a little scared of 20-something youths. His last movie, Greenberg (2010), also starring Ben Stiller, was about a lost 40-year-old cultural creative getting involved with a hip young woman who he thinks/hopes might help him retry or restart his life. She does, of course, but only in the sense that he realized he doesn’t belong in her world, nor she in his, and grows up and starts acting like what mainstream American culture defines as an adult. So too, with Baumbach’s latest, While We’re Young, though now it’s a couple, with Naomi Watts’s Cornelia just as lost, though seemingly pretty damn successful as a movie producer (way more successful than Stiller’s Josh). While everyone else their age seems to be married and having children, Josh and Cornelia seem to feel they’ve dodged the bullet by not being able to have had children, though Josh still seems interested and Cornelia’s objection is more about health and the effects on her body. Still, lost. Even though both lead non-9-to-5 jobs, and Josh seems to not really have worked at all for eight years(!) and they claim to each other that they could easily take off for Paris, they don’t. Despite the fact that they live in Manhattan, they don’t seem to know what to do for fun, until they meet a young hipster couple, Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) whose every moment seems creative somehow. First Josh, and then Cornelia, are swept up in, well, having fun. The question they ask each other is, Is this for real? Is this younger generation that cool and creative and just really nice? Well, maybe not. Jamie is, or wants to be, a documentary filmmaker like Josh, and Cornelia’s father happens to also be a really really famous and successful documentary filmmaker. And when Jamie invites Josh to help him out with a new project, that suddenly seems to be turning into a great documentary, Josh begins to have doubts. Stiller is good, as usual. He tends to play the same type of character, whether in a blockbuster like Night At The Museum or an indie like While We’re Young: always a little manically naive, always looking a little frazzled-lost, and always verging on the edge of annoying, though always coming out the good sensitive guy in the end. Naomi Watts actually has the more interesting character, at least for the first two thirds of the movie, and the more comedic lines and scenes (especially the hip-hop dance class). Cornelia is also kind of the voice of reason to Josh’s all-in approach with the hipsters, again at least until the last third, when her character kind of drops out and it becomes about, of course, Josh. The most interesting performance might be by Adam Driver, who plays young hipster Jamie sympathetically, even though two different characters talk about him being an asshole. That is, I think Baumbach wants us to dislike him much earlier than we do. If we do. Because even at the end, even when Josh comes in to supposedly save the day for 40-somethings and claim hipsters are all music-and-video-downloading freeloaders and self-centered egomaniacs who will lie to be successful, I and the person I saw the movie with spent most of our after-movie walk debating whether Jamie had done anything really wrong. He does lie, and his is ambitious, but Cornelia’s father, the successful one, seems to see those traits as essential, and to see Jamie as the better artist, rather than his son-in-law. [Spoiler alert] If the movie were to stay there, in that debate about art and how different generations of creatives think about it, While We’re Young might be great. But in the end, Baumbach opts for the cop out. Josh and Cornelia make a total rejection of the hipster lifestyle and instead, without the movie ever convincing me that having a child is that great an experience (quite the opposite) they decide to accept what mainstream American culture defines as adult, and adopt a child (from Haiti, which somehow makes me go: of course) and I guess become like all the other couples their age. I just can’t believe Baumbach really believes that’s the only option. His interest in this subject (spanning years at least, with Greenberg) seems to point to the opposite, that there is something, something fun and interesting and fulfilling, about keeping the freedom you had in your 20s. The adoption ending seems tacked on, in order to comfort its target audience—40-somethings who have kids—that they made the right decision. A more interesting choice for an ending would have been Josh and Cornelia finally taking that trip to Paris. But no, Baumbach apparently wants them, and us, and me, and maybe himself, to grow up. While We’re Young (2015)John's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.