WHILE WE’RE YOUNG

Becoming an adult is kind of a daunting proposition. Especially for those who never seem to want to grow up. But sometimes we are thrown into adulthood despite our best intentions and that forces us to finally grow up. That’s kind of the point of Noah Baumbach’s brilliant comedy WHILE WE’RE YOUNG. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are a 40-something married couple. He’s a documentary filmmaker, she produces her legendary father’s documentaries. They have no kids (not for lack of trying, but sometimes biology won’t let it happen). They seem happy, but their friends are all having kids and they appear to be left behind. Then Stiller meets 20-something couple Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried who are auditing his documentary film class. Driver is a big fan of Stiller’s one documentary and they strike up a friendship. The two couples do everything together. Stiller, in an effort to fit in buys a hipster hat and a bicycle. Meantime, Watts and Stiller are drifting farther away from their older friends. Almost immediately the audience sees what Stiller cannot– that Driver is using him to further his own documentary filmmaking career. The clues to Diver’s true motives unravel over the course of the film like a good mystery. Baumbach’s message is clear. Don’t fritter away your youth. But being young isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. In other words, own your age and don’t be something your not. Stiller and Watts slowly realize this as the story unfolds. Baumbach (GREENBERG, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, FRANCES HA) is expert at telling these stories where his main characters are socially awkward but well intentioned. He never forgets the funny. But the comedy comes with a message that weaves its way into your consciousness until you realize, “wow, he’s right”. He also gets the best out of his actors. Stiller is wonderful and Adam Driver is amazing as the devious young filmmaker. It was also great to see Charles Grodin as Watt’s father. Baumbach sets us up for a stereotypical “good feeling” Hollywood ending when Stiller figures out what is really going on. But, that would be too easy and he turns that trope on its head. This is a really great movie that I loved without reservation. It really spoke to me on several levels. Go see it, while you’re young. — Alan Yudman

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