Written by / 4/14/2015 / No comments / , , , ,

BEN STILLER & NAOMI WATTS IN WHILE WE'RE YOUNG

year: 2015 rating: ***
After an excruciating all-night spiritual exercise of literally cleansing the body and soul by using peyote, the next morning Ben Stiller’s struggling New York based documentarian Josh points out to his wife Cornelia, played by Naomi Watts, that the Shaman has a Vespa; reminiscent of Woody Allen’s quip to Shelley Duvall about the Maharishi at Madison Square Garden in ANNIE HALL: “Look, there’s God coming out of the Men's Room.”

Ben Stiller
Clever and strategic for writer/director Noah Baumbach to, from the very beginning, admit his WHILE WE’RE YOUNG is inspired by... some classic play, distracting from the similarity to Allen’s neurotic style including a barrage of self deprecation, navel gazing and an eventual envious competition between one failed and one lucky filmmaker straight from another Woody classic, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Although Adam Driver’s 25-year-old inspiring documentarian, Jamie, is anything but a roaring success…

Especially when he first meets his mentor, Stiller’s 44-year-old Josh, who winds up going through a crash course mid-life crisis ranging from hipster clothing to a brand new appreciation for the pop culture he grew up on (from ROSEMARY’S BABY to THE GOONIES to "Eye of the Tiger" to Carvel Ice Cream) and that this generation knows only from You Tube clips.

The friendship between old and young artist is more interesting than the trite connection of Cornelia and Jamie’s girl Darby, played by Amanda Seyfried, and yet either odd couple hardly wields enough intriguing humor to make YOUNG as inspired as it tries too hard to be. Thankfully for the audience and our put-upon hero, there’s a nice pivotal twist involving Jamie’s integrity as a filmmaker, making Ben Stiller rise above the clich├ęs and finally, actually, need something.
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