Greenberg (Stiller, Baumbach, Murphy… HIPSTERTASTIC!)

The king of twee indie movies is back! I of course refer to myself, as the number one consumer of the “side project” movie of famous acting stars. I’m an officianado of “that indie movie”, the movie you see the poster for but never think to download, rent or buy. I live for the low budget, deep thinking movie that has words like “whipsmart” and “thoughtful” accredited to them by hipster bloggers who don’t grasp english words like what I does.

Greenberg is Ben Stiller’s “side project” and if you’re being cynical about it, can also be credited as his “going serious” role. It does have a great deal more star status however; the screenplay is based on a story by Jennifer Jason Lee (who has a bit part in the movie) and adapted to screen by Noah Baumbach who wrote The Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr Fox… which makes him a bonafide genius, right? The movie is also scored by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame, one of my favourite bands. I’m pretty sure this movie was aimed directly at me!

Recently released from a mental institution, Roger Greenberg (Stiller) returns to his native L.A. to stay at his brothers house whilst he recovers and assess his life options. Although he officially considers himself a carpenter it is safe to say he does very little, and at the ripe age of 38 has very little ambition and would be happy to do nothing at all so long as his lethargy was  never pointed out to him. (pushing all of my buttons so far)

Roger meets Florence Marr, a twenty something who functions as the Greenburg family assitant (played by Greta Gerwig and brilliantly described as the girl who “if you worked in an office you’d develop a crush on her, but outside you’d wonder if she was as cute as you’d imagined”) and instantly takes a shine to her,  she is young, confused and recently dumped so returns the attraction and a really awkward romance is born (not to mention some really awkward unsexy sex scenes that are rather amusing).

Between finding love and assessing life, Roger takes time to re-connect with his past. The third character in the piece is Ivan, an ever forgiving old friend (played by Rhys Ifans, in his least annoying performance to date). Ivan is an ex-bandmate turned PC Repair man who brings the idea of normality (job, wife and kids) to the movie whilst suffering Rogers tirades about everything from Florence, to Starbucks, to seats on aeroplanes.

“Greenberg” turns out to be a movie that’s less about a story and more about coping with a series of events that happen over a space of time. It’s save to say that very few people will relate to Roger Greenberg, which in turn will of course limit the reach of this movie to the kind of people who look out for this kind of movie… don’t question me on that, it makes sense, I know it makes sense because it is how I choose movies to watch!

I’ve followed Ben Stiller through his acting career, I have a lot of time for his work even though his output has been steadily dropping in quality for some time. I’m also a huge fan of baumbach; The Life Aquatic is one of my favourite movies of all time! Fantastic Mr Fox was one of my favourites movies of last year. My love for the creator and star of the movie however can’t override the fact that “Greenberg” is a disappointment and decidedly average. “Greenberg” just doesn’t deliver on as many levels as it should, the dialogue is fine but there is a definate lack of  “moments” to drive the story along. It would have been great to see Greenberg taken close to insanity or cresting a wave of joy before crashing back down to his natural low emotional state thanks to his new found love, instead we follow a pretty uneventful affair between two adults who have no reason not to be embarking on a relationship.

Stiller puts in a good performance and whilst the part of Roger Greenberg isn’t a million miles from his acting comfort zone, Stiller manages to sell the idea of a recovering mental patient constantly assessing his life without using any cliché mental patient traits. Jennifer Jason Lee and Rhys Ifans also bring their sturdy acting chops to the table but the real star of the peice is Greta Gerwig. Her general nervous adorableness and terrible bandage-esq bra’s are a treat and any actress who’s a good enough sport to appear in two of the worlds least sexy sex scenes gets a thumbs up from me.

Go see it, or don’t, whatever man.

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