Dir: Noah Baumbach (2015)
Ben Stiller continues his middle aged man in a crisis thing in Noah Baumbach‘s latest; A fantastically cynical and brilliantly funny slice of old versus new which has a bone to pick with both generation X and the wave of artisan home-brew loving, vinyl collecting, plaid dipped, cinephile hipster millennials. While We’re Young is certainly the straightest comedy of Baumbach’s career but he’s lost none of his wonderful knack for inspired and surprising dialogue, spot on casting, performances and pitch perfect social commentary.
Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are being bombarded by what she dubs “the baby cult”; All of their Hulu watching iPhone addicted friends are having children and baby proofing their houses while they feel the creeping dread of a somewhat latent social arrested development. He’s a once promising documentary film maker whose latest effort has been in production for nearly 8 years and she, a producer for her father (played beautifully by Charles Grodin), a Masyles type giant of the form, is sort of, sort of not, reviewing her inability to have children.
Brow beaten and somewhat depressed about his career, Josh meets Jamie and Darby after a lecture made impotent by a malfunctioning power point; The wonderful Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried appear to Josh and Cornelia as the most open and interesting people in their lives. Jamie himself knows of Josh’s work and is an aspiring film maker who quickly adopts the cranky father figure as his mentor with the intelligent odd charm which broke him in Lena Dunham‘s Girls. The couple live in an old factory filled with records and typewriters and VHS tapes; “It’s all of the stuff we threw out but it somehow looks great now.” Here in lies Baumbach’s obsession with the speed and quality of the separate times we all inhabit laced with the disconnect and anxiety which he dishes out so well.
When Jamie lures Josh to help with his own project, a Catfish-esque Facebook documentary, things begin to unravel in a strange and clever way while Baumbach infuses each scene with a satirical portrayal of the generation gap and to a brilliant extent, a reverse of it. The foursome walk abandoned tube tunnels and try a shaman lead Ayahuasca retreat while their real friends go to a beach house, babies in tow. Baumbach wades into Judd Apatow territory with his head held high creating a film which feels both fresh and classic straight out of the gate. While We’re Young may be the directors most accessible (and his second most autobiographical) work but in it’s final moments he also shows that he’s lost none of his ability to cut right to the bone. It’s painfully sad and very very funny.