Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Quacking BetaMax: Greenberg
I was looking through my HBO On-Demand and found that "Greenberg" (2010) was available. What a perfect compliment as I had just finished watching "The Squid and the Whale". It is unclear as to if this is meant to be a true life experience of Noah Baumbach as his previous films have borrowed from. However, if it is then damn this guy is messed up and I like him for it. Along with Noah Baumbach is his (now former) wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh, which assisted in writing this indie drama.
The title character is delivered by Ben Stiller (Roger), who is staying at his brother's house in L.A. while he and his family are on vacation. Left behind are the family dog and the personal assistant Florence, played by Greta Gerwig. The story focuses on these three individuals (well the dog is considered an individual too). The back story on Roger is that he recently left a mental health facility in New York. His main activity is writing complaint letters to various companies based on experiences that he is not able to let go of. My favorite of his complaints has to be his letter to Starbucks... "In your attempts to manufacture culture out of fast food coffee, you have been surprisingly successful for the most part. The part that isn't covered by the most part sucks.". Seriously, how many of us have thought this exact thing, but never put the words together. Brilliant...
But back to the review... Florence the personal assistant is messed up in that she has spent the same number of years out of college as she was in college and doesn't really have any direction in her life. She is jumping from relationship and doesn't want to go from "just have sex, to just having sex, to just having sex". The glue of all the relationships is the dog that gets sick and brings everyone together. In the end you realize that as messed-up as Florence is and Roger that they deserve each other. This movie ends like real life does, it just goes on. We are left with the possibility that together they might be able to figure it out.
Overall, the movie is cleverly written and I look forward to the next project that Ben Stiller and Noah Baumbach are working together on (While We're Young - 2012). I give Greenberg another 4 Quacks and encourage everyone to update their netflix accounts and hit up RedBox this weekend.