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Review: While We’re Young 

All good until it goes sour

click to enlarge Stiller, Watts and a blankie.
  • Stiller, Watts and a blankie.

The notably caustic Noah Baumbach, not quite as chilly as Wes Anderson or the Coens but a far cry from Richard Linklater or even Kevin Smith, changed his tune with 2012’s wonderful Frances Ha, about a 20-something trying to find herself in New York. It was co-written by and starred Greta Gerwig, Baumbach’s real-life love. She is nowhere to be found in While We’re Young, and clearly—if you couldn’t tell already—provided Frances’ warmth, because this marks a return to calculated cold form for the writer-director. Ben Stiller stands in for him as Josh, a Filmmaker With Principles, married to Naomi Watts. Adam Driver is Jamie, an ambitious Brooklyn kid who shoots cell phone videos, married to Amanda Seyfried’s ice cream-maker (organic, natch). The younger couple’s boho DIY life intrigues the Olds, who have been cast aside by their friends with babies. Baumbach has lots of interesting things to say about art, age and how to live, but it’s all relatively undercut by a melodramatic turn, complete with overwrought score, that pitches Driver way too far to one side as a calculating villain. Disappointingly, the women mostly exist to be support objects while the men get to chew over the meaning of everything—get Gerwig back on the case!—but until the sourness seeps in, this is an engaging contemporary comedy.

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