Is originality possible and desirable? In an age of online sharing, have we all become copycats?
These two big questions are at the heart of Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young”.
I was only charmed by small sections of “Greenberg” and “Frances Ha” and this is a logical sequel.
Yet, it’s far more accessible and enjoyable to watch than either of those movies.
Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are fortysomethings in New York City. Being childless, they feel disconnected from their peers, who include a wonderful Adam Horovitz.
Enter hip twentysomethings Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried.
That vaguely annoying quality Ben Stiller has is put to good use. Naomi Watts has glorious comic timing. Driver and Seyfried are both perfect.
Charles Grodin is also here and just terrific as the voice of reason when everyone else gets zany and self-indulgent. And for those who spot that Horovitz was once a Beastie Boy, there is also joy at the casting of Peter Yarrow as a professor.
The problem is that Baumbach aspires to be Henrik Ibsen but only occasionally achieves the level of early Woody Allen. That’s not terrible; funny lines and hilarious moments happen.
At its best, you find that you care about what happens next. Detail about the process of making documentary films adds depth and interest.
My companion and I enjoyed it and discussed it afterwards. So, is originality possible? Baumbach seems to think it’s desirable and achievable.
The trouble is that I’ve had a little too much of smug and rich people going through angst about their art, in recent movies. It leaves me wanting to tell them they should just grow up and do more for others. Living in your own head can be surprisingly small, even given a big imagination.
It provoked me and prodded my ideas around. But I never really warmed to it and it won’t trouble my 2015 top ten list.