I had a lot of trepidation going into this film. On one hand, Ben Stiller has been really hit or miss for a while now. His films are either great or pretty bad, rarely somewhere in-between. On the other hand, I’ve never been the biggest Noah Baumbach fan. I love the writing stuff he’s done with Wes Anderson, but the films he’s directed that I’ve seen have never blown me away. So with this in mind, it was quite a pleasant surprise to find this to be one of the better films I’ve seen this year so far.
The story the trailer gives you is a very simple one. Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are a married couple in their 40s. Jamie (Adam Horovitz) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) are a young married couple in their 20s. When the two couples meet they start hanging out and Josh and Cornelia starts feeling younger and more live because of their interactions with Jamie and Darby. Fun and wackiness ensues.
However, there is a little bit of a darker undertone that the trailer doesn’t touch on, and it is this element, that made me fall in love with the film. Josh is a struggling documentary filmmaker. He made one great film many years ago and has been working on his follow-up ever since, teaching classes to pay the bills. Jamie wants to be a documentary filmmaker. It is in Josh’s class where they meet. Jamie looks up to Josh, telling him he’s a big fan, and it is this shared interesting in filmmaking that leads them to hanging out together. Soon Josh begins to suspect that Jamie is just using him to kickstart his own career and this sends Josh on a paranoid downward spiral.
The writing in this film is spot on. The differences between these two couples makes for some great comedy and social commentary about the differences in the two generations. The writing is elevated even further by fantastic performances from everyone involved. On top of the four leads, some of the smaller rolls include Charles Grodin as Cornelia’s father, a very successful filmmaker, who Josh suspects Jamie is just using him to get to his father-in-law. Then there is Adam Horovits and Maria Dizzia, who play Josh and Cornelia’s 40 year old friends who constantly remind them that they are indeed 40 and they’re acting like crazy people trying to pretend their 20 again.
This film works on a lot of levels. It works as a comedic look at the generational differences of today, and it also works as one mans decent into paranoid delusion. Is Jamie really using him to further his own career? Does Jamie really care about him as a person at all? It is this dually layered storytelling that makes While We’re Young such a great film.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. This is a great looking and sounding film.
You get six behind-the-scenes featurettes that adds up to about 10 minutes worth of extras. Each is about two minutes or less long is merely a little puff piece. No real insight to be added to the film here. The Cast, Working with Noah Baumbauch, Working with Charles Grodin, Generation Tech, Ayahuasca Ceremony, and Hip-Hop Class.
As a Ben Stiller fan it was wonderful to see him excel in a great film again. Adam Driver also proves what a great young actor he is and I can’t wait to see where his career takes him. Adam Horovitz, Ad-Rock himself, proves that he’s got some pretty great comic chops as well.
Lionsgate presents While We’re Young. Written and Directed by: Noah Baumbach. Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin and Adam Horovitz. Running time: 97 min. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 30, 2015.
Tags: Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Ben Stiller, Charles Grodin, Naomi Watts, Noah Baumbach, While We're Young