“Life is often wasted on people.” Greenberg says. You’ll believe every word that comes out of Ben Stiller’s mentally unstable mouth. The trailer plays it up as too much of a comedy in my opinion. It’s more a drama film with lots of comedic moments. I’ll use my favorite term here and say it’s a ‘dramedy’ of epic and symbolic proportions by the always awesome auteur-Noah Baumbach.
So right before you sit down to see this film you are saying to yourself ‘another movie about a mid-life crisis’? Didn’t we get our fill with ‘American Beauty’ or a myriad of other flicks? No, it’s not really another generic mid-life freak-out film. Ben Stiller is incredible as Greenberg. He does not buy a Corvette or contemplate Kierkegaard-he actually does something totally new. He tries to just be. He’s freshly out of the mental hospital for ‘an undisclosed depression’ and it’s as believable and natural as can be. Ben Stiller’s last film of this nature (Dramatic and comical) was the under appreciated and brilliantly sad film “Permanent Midnight” (the story of author Jerry Stahl).
Greta Gerwig as the young confused LA hipster is beyond charming and talented on many levels. I think Gerwig is the next Kate Winslet. I have no doubts at her humble skills as an actress. Rhys Ifans fits the bill too and is totally sincere in his friendship with Greenberg as his old band mate who’s full of love and compassion.
The film itself is an ode to those LA stereotypes we all love and hate so much. Shot very naturally and captured as a style (to me anyways) of some really cool 1970s films. The editing also reminded me of the 70s too-edited by the talented Tim Streeto.
If you have lived in either NY or LA there are a few jokes that will have you bursting at your own seams (I won’t give them away I’m too nice for that). The most refreshing thing about Greenberg is there is no 3-D dream sequence nor do blue men jump at you. There are no magic moments of surreal lives realized. The special effects are humanity exposed for what it is….full of real people. They aren’t drawings of caricatures of people but real and often annoying types of folks. I for one am sick of 3-D movies and or overproduced overdone remakes. Simple films still make for the best type of films.
I will finally say that Greenberg also reminded me of the Old Italian film “Umberto D.”
It’s not the same story but it gave me a similar feeling inside. Both films have very charming dogs and troubled people in the storyline. Both I now consider to be classics.
Here’s a link to Umberto D.:
If you want to see a nice old fashioned film about the simple complexities of life, then go get some Greenberg. You won’t be disappointed in him, but you might leave the theater thinking. “Why are we all here?” I think we all have a little Greenberg in all of us, myself included.
I’ll leave you all with this: What’s my own latest Greenberg moment?
I was biking through Echo Park and some asshole in a convertible Porsche tried to cut me off. I in turn cut him off (since I had the right of way) and gave him the finger. He was trapped too-so he couldn’t chase me down. He sure was mad-which made me a bit happier than normal.
We all deserve a little satisfaction and relief. Am I wrong?