Synopsis: A middle-aged couple’s career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives.
Release Date: April 3, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
It’s said that everything old is new again. That explains why teenage girls shop for vintage dresses and twenty-something music snobs buy expensive stereo equipment in order to listen to their collection of worn-in vinyl records. The closing cultural generation gap is explored in the new film by writer/director Noah Baumbach (Francis Ha, The Squid and the Whale), a film called While We’re Young.
While We’re Young is about a documentary filmmaker named Josh (Ben Stiller from Zoolander) and his wife, Cornelia (Birdman‘s Naomi Watts), who are at a point in their lives where they find themselves drifting apart from their nuclear family-oriented friends. They happen to meet a young hipster couple named Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver from Inside Llewyn Davis and Amanda Seyfried from Les Misérables, respectively), who are everything that Josh and Cornelia are not; they’re free-spirited, spontaneous, and unattached. Jamie happens to be a documentary filmmaker himself, and asks for Josh’s help on a new idea – one that Josh sees as having more potential than his current project. Josh can’t help but feel a little jealous, especially when Jamie begins sneakily cozying up to Josh’s contacts, including his father-in-law, film producer Leslie Breitbart (Beethoven‘s Charles Grodin). Josh wonders if Jamie is really the person he claims to be, or if he’s just using Josh and Cornelia for his own artistic and business advancements.
There’s an interesting message somewhere within the subtext of While We’re Young. There’s a struggle between the age groups, and Josh and Cornelia are caught in the middle of it. The couple embraces newfangled digital technology, with their smartphones and iTunes, while Jamie and Darby are completely analog, with Jamie’s record collection rivalling Josh’s iTunes library and Jamie using an old fashioned typewriter to peck out his scripts. While the young couple may embrace the traditional technology, their attitudes are much more modern and free-wheeling. For example, Jamie sees nothing wrong with fabricating and re-enacting parts of his documentaries while Josh completely frowns upon it – even though Josh’s films are stodgy and tedious affairs and Jamie’s are entertaining and engaging. While We’re Young doesn’t take a side, but it definitely opens up a conversation about the differences in attitudes between Gen-Xers and Millennials.
For as entertaining as it is, While We’re Young is a tad schizophrenic. It’s classified as a comedy and a drama, but it’s not really either. It’s too quirky to be a drama, but it’s not funny enough to really be called a comedy. The style of the film is tough to pin down; there aren’t a ton of laughs, but there are even fewer tears. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, because Noah Baumbach tells a great story, and that’s what counts. Add in the chemistry-filled performances from the core cast and the overall fun vibe of the film, and it’s a winner. While We’re Young is a coming-of-age film for those who are already there, a film about growing up for grown-ups.
The soundtrack to While We’re Young is packed with classic songs. Because Jamie and Darby are analog hipsters, they listen to music that is from Josh and Cornelia’s generation, so the soundtrack to the film includes a lot of eighties hits like Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You,” Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” and Foreigner’s “Waiting For a Girl Like You.” There’s even a scene where Jamie psyches Josh up for an interview by playing Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” (through a cassette Walkman) that makes the viewer want to sing along – “Josh!…Josh! Josh! Josh!…Josh! Josh! Josh!…Josh! Josh! Jooooooosssssshhhh!!” The original music for the film was done by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy (who also scored Baumbach’s Greenberg), his most awesome contribution being an absolutely genius music box lullaby rendition of David Bowie’s “Golden Years” that will have the listener scratching their head trying to figure out what freaking song it is until the title finally dawns on them. The music is a pretty big part of While We’re Young, and the soundtrack is full of fun and familiar tunes.
A cursory look at the cast of While We’re Young might give one the impression that it’s a rip-roaring comedy, but the mere presence of Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried, and Charles Grodin do not a comedy make. There are little pockets of humor and wit, but no more than are present in the average movie that does not star one of the biggest comedy stars of the last thirty years (meaning Ben Stiller – Seyfried and Grodin excel at drama, too). The Stiller in While We’re Young is closer to the Stiller that audiences saw in Reality Bites or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty than to that of Tropic Thunder or Meet the Parents. If he didn’t have a new Zoolander movie on the schedule, one would think that Stiller is trying to soften his comedic image and make a play for some more serious roles. In short, While We’re Young is not a comedy, it’s a faux-drama with a handful of funny moments. And it’s fine that way, as long as the viewer knows not to expect any scenes of Ben Stiller zipping his franks-and-beans up in his pants, they’ll be satisfied.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Noah Baumbach
- Producer(s): Noah BaumbachEli BushScott RudinLila Yacoub
- Screenwriter(s): Noah Baumbach
- Cast: Ben StillerNaomi WattsAdam Driver Amanda SeyfriedCharles GrodinPeter Yarrow
- Editor(s): Jennifer Lame
- Cinematographer: Sam Levy
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Ann Roth
- Casting Director(s): Douglas AibelFrancine Maisler
- Music Score: James Murphy
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA