While We’re Young Review – A Fresh Comedic Middle Age Drama

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While We’re Young, from Scott Rudin Productions and A24, brings to the screen an engaging comedic drama filled with culture clashes, passion points and middle aged awakenings pairing realistic dialogue with very real situations to deliver a charming, appealing, back to the future trip.

Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, While We’re Young stars Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Horowitz Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver and Charles Grodin.

We meet Josh and Cornelia Srebnick, played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, a liberal creative successful Upper West Side Manhattan couple. Happily married a documentary filmmaker and producer, the two tell themselves they’re satisfied with their lives. With the exception of a few minor hiccups along the way, and of course, the angst of the unfinished documentary project, life is good.

Suddenly, their lives, with all the fullness, seem to reflect an emptiness brought on by the invasion of the Mommy cult that has overtaken their neighborhood, acquaintances, and like a diligent cult, every person within a twenty block radius that once knew our successful couple is clubbed over the head with diaper genies, mommy and me, Gymboree and play dates all the while reciting the good mommy mantra.

We meet Jamie and Darby, a 20’s something retro couple, played Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, the Gen X, Y modern bohemian couple, Greenwich Village circa 1960, the new age 20 something who feel that life has presented just about every option they have and it is theirs to glean what will advantageously work to catapult or discard that which doesn’t.

They are blended, childless, ethically challenged and cause conscience; a dichotomy of modernism and unconventional; free spirited and fiercely determined; begrudgingly capitalists, or creative successes or tech giants only because it is what society has pushed upon them.

The escape of Gymboree and a respite from the once reserved for LSD enlightenment on how the world has become this magical, new, amazing trip and while it may be true it opens a deep and sorrowful wound for our genuinely nice, ethical and guided couple. Josh and Cornelia can’t have children.

They decide, for the moment, to step outside of their well-directed lives and detour to Brooklyn’s counter culture, a creative hotspot of hip new trendy happenings, a trip that started at NYU in documentary film class when a stranger approaches Josh and of course compliments the most obscure work he has ever completed and maybe the only work.

Soon our couple, has become a quartet as Jamie and Darby ingratiate themselves in Josh and Cornelia’s life. With their fresh take on life and contagious enthusiasm seems infectious and motivating at first and then oddly challenging. A few of their choices including an album (nee Vinyl) collection that covers a multitude and not dependent or guided by others opinions quiets the questions.

They are however as the story plays out more than manipulative, cunning and unapologetic about the ways they employ to further their success.

Charles Grogin, plays Leslie Breitbart, honored and esteemed documentarian, Cornelia’s father and of course, the father-in-law to struggling documentarian Josh. The tense misunderstood relationship between Stiller and Grogin, is the foundation for familial struggles with Cornelia and what Stiller believes are her expectations.  Breitbart is a documentarian extraordinaire and Josh, he belives,is the disappointing son-in-law.

The passion point for Stiller comes when he finally figures out Jamie’s game. And with the esteem and love he has for his wife and father-in-law he refuses to allow them to be drawn into it only to get to the pinnacle and once again the manipulator steps up and changes the games.

While We’re Young is genuinely enjoyable. A story and character driven story the stellar ensemble cast carries the film. No special effects, explosions, sonic booms or other hooks. The highs, lows, whammies, pitfalls, and truth of life is what you get and still a nice cinematic escape into a different and at times difficult world of creativity and expectation.

Noah Baumbach has taken two cultures and created world within worlds, each with its own set of challenges extracting from his cast the exactness of the script while keeping the back story as present as the words.

The all-star cast deal with circumstances of life realistically. To single one person out, honestly, other than Charles Grogin, with his droll sense of humor, I think would be remiss.

The cast takes the extremely sensitive material, not being able to have children, for the enlightened or not among us, can result in a devastating self-assessment, better to be a choice than a sentence, and deliver the drama with comedic precision. The issues of the docu-drama or staged reality is also delivered with two very passionate and opposing opinions.

Stiller and Watts deal with the sensitivities of the subject defusing the tense with humor and they get a glimpse of quite possibly what their adult something off spring would have been when they adopt Jamie and Darby for a moment.

While We’re Young is worth seeing as Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts bring a fresh comedic charm to the dramedy of life as they bumble through Brooklyn and New Age mysticism.

While We’re Young is a nice addition to the box office and opens Friday, March 27, in select cities. Check local listings.

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