While We’re Young Directed by: Noah Baumbach Written by: Noah Baumbach Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried
“Enough about ethics, what about me?”
This line in Noah Baumbach’s latest movie comes toward the end, when the middle-aged documentary filmmaker played by Ben Stiller, reaches the end of an annoyingly grandiose diatribe against every other character in the movie and their perceived moral betrayals. It’s delivered, as much of the rest of the movie is, somewhere between satire and sincerity. That’s to say, While We’re Young is much more of a return to form for Baumbach than the joyous outburst of his last film, 2013’s Frances Ha.
While We’re Young is Baumbach’s sometimes sharp, sometimes eye-roll-inducing look at generational gaps and overlaps. Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are in their 40s, have no kids and are very defensive about it. They’re losing their friends to parenthood, so when Josh meets Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried, a young couple in one of his film classes, they go on a double date and he and his wife quickly latch onto them.
The Royal Tenenbaums Directed by: Wes Anderson Written by: Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson (screenplay) Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller and Gwyneth Paltrow
The idea that movies can have a literary quality to them is something that a director like Wes Anderson often takes to heart. His movies operate on many basic storytelling conventions- the dysfunctional family, the adolescent emerging the cocoon- but within them is an entire world of his own creation.
The Anderson Aesthetic is one where his art and his life-view merge; where the clothes of the characters often meticulously match their surroundings. It’s a style of filmmaking that can be divisive, which also means that it’s a style that is always interesting.
Little Fockers Directed by: Paul Weitz Written by: John Hamburg & Larry Stuckey (screenplay) Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, and Owen Wilson
It has always been about fear for the Focker franchise. The fear Greg (Ben Stiller) has of his father-in-law/ex-CIA agent Jack (Robert DeNiro) and vice versa. For two films, thanks to a handful of other comic aids, that unlikely comic duo has become weirdly iconic. Like The Godfather franchise, which this movie apparently thinks it’s worthy of spoofing since it stars DeNiro, it’s time for the unnecessary third installment.
In yet another uncomfortable moment between Jack and Greg, this time at some snooty prep school that Greg is trying to get his kids in, Jack talks about being a shepherd taking his family out to graze. This is the central conflict of the movie, the passing of that title onto Greg and seeing if he is worthy. Unfortunately, there is no such figure to guide either the horrendously unfunny screenplay or the large, famous ensemble cast to greener pastures.