While We’re Young (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

While We’re Young (2014) Directed by Noah Baumbach. With Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. 

WhileWereYoung1

From acclaimed writer-director Noah Baumbach comes While We’re Young, a coming-of-un-age film about a couple in their 40’s who are befriended by a couple in their 20’s. Set against the backdrop of New York, but with tourist attractions well out of sight, the elder couple are played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, a not-exactly-old pair of New Yorker’s who begin to feel decidedly ancient in the company of Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried – a pair of (dare I say it) hipsters who embrace culture and openness in a way that the 40-something’s have semi-forgotten.

Thankfully, the tone keeps us from rolling our eyes too much and although initially it seems the case, Baumbach’s intentions aren’t to lecture us for not being hipsters. No, he’s more interested in exploring the humour between the age and culture gaps, while concreting the simple truth that we’re all basically the same, just different interpretations of it.

Baumbach isn’t afraid to embrace his influences either, with the style of Woody Allen evident throughout. Like so many Ben Stiller headliners, While We’re Young was marketed as an out-and-out comedy. Perhaps this might have led to some amount of confusion over expectations – certainly the majority of the humour is delivered with the intention of being wryly amusing over downright laughing-in-the aisles hilarious.

Performance-wise, it’s fine. Driver and Stiller are given the lions share of the screen-time, while Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfried are more back-seat passengers than they ought to be. Stiller is basically the same old Average Joe we’ve seen what seems like a thousand times over, while Driver is a more curiously magnetic presence, playing a quasi version of Keanu Reeves from Bill & Ted, but without the spontaneous air guitar and a better vocabulary.

Ultimately, the film skirts around the idea of the perception of what is ‘cool‘ and the things we should be aspiring to. Occasionally it feels like it’s about derail, but it just about keeps its balance despite some hairy moments. Sadly, it fails to muster the same grounded humanity of Baumbach’s earlier effort, Frances Ha, and although it has patchy moments of good humour, there isn’t enough going on to make a strong recommendation. 3/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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20 Responses to While We’re Young (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Considering the amount of material applicable to women getting older and the pressures they come under to remain young, you’d think Watts and Seyfried would have been more than ‘back seat passengers.’ Big opportunity missed there by the writer and a waste of Naomi Watts’ talent.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I completely agree. I think Naomi Watts is a tremendous actress with so much much to offer, but she’s almost sidelined here. Women are pressured to perform to a standard in many cases of modern society, which is both annoying and frustrating. You’re absolutely spot-on in your assertion that an opportunity was missed on that front. Thank you for commenting.

  2. filmfunkel says:

    I actually like Amanda too – that stinks. 😦

  3. Kgothatjo Magolego says:

    I decided to give this one a miss at the cinema and your review has me feeling less regret about my decision. Maybe I’ll give it a look when it comes out on DVD. Good to see you back man, missed your reviews over the last few weeks.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you my friend. It’s good to be back after a vacation – so many films to catch up with. Hope you’re keeping well.

      While We’re Young is OK but it feels like a bit of a waste. It’s uneven and isn’t as natural or funny as perhaps it ought to be.

  4. movieblort says:

    I watched this a while ago and really enjoyed it. Review still pending.

    I didn’t find it laugh out loud funny, I don’t really know what the point of the film was about, did it have a point? Should we be ourselves? Be someone else? Don’t trust anyone? Trust people you know? Accept that you’ll never be cool? Try and be cool but if you fail go back to normal?

    It was just a bit jumbled, and I don’t know if it meant to be. Caught between people addicted to technology, but then rejecting it in favour of being cool, hipster and subversive, but then going back again to it and realising that people make their own minds up with respect to their lifestyles?

    An enjoyable watch anyway, I’d say your score was fair and the review is pretty spot on. May just link to your one and not bother writing one up!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you. I think that you hit the nail on the head calling it “just a bit jumbled”. I went in with high expectations of seeing something that would last with me for days on end, yet 30-minutes later I was beginning to forget it. And yes, what was it about? It started off on a trajectory then seemed to hit a wall. I came away wondering to myself – what was Baumbach trying to say? In the end, I think he got a bit tongue-tied.

  5. Mike D says:

    The scene where Josh is pitching his movie to the financier was hilarious. That’s how I talk about movies and people always glaze over. Brilliant.

  6. Chris Evans says:

    Great review Gareth, this sounds interesting (if nothing mind blowingly unique) – haven’t seen Ben Stiller in anything for a while…in fact I’m pretty sure the last time I saw him on screen was Little Fockers!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you, Chris. For me, it never gains traction, but I can see why some people responded well to it. I was expecting a funnier film with more to say for itself. I was also disappointed with the underuse of Watts. She deserves a more fleshed-out role.

  7. this film truly annoyed the bejesus out of me..double that for Adam Driver… Ben Stiller stepped up a little to try and save a bit here n there..but it didn’t help. :/

    • garethrhodes says:

      Hi Peggy, I can see why this might annoy. On some level, I agree with you. It was one of those viewing experiences that I went into having high hopes, but they gradually faded. Paid the full £11 for the DVD too. :/

      • ouch!!! that’s like almost $20 USD which is A LOT.. not even the price of the movie tickets are that high yet..

      • garethrhodes says:

        Yes, it’s roughly $17. Big mistake splashing out, but being such a huge fan of Naomi Watts and having admiration for Baumbach and Adam Driver, I assumed I’d be in safe hands. Even the Rotten Tomatoes score is enthusiastic. 😕

      • oh..I used to be a big NW fan..but not since after The Impossible has she been for me.. ah well.. maybe she will redeem herself in 2016.. 🙂

      • garethrhodes says:

        Her career has been very stop/start. Mulholland Drive was such a jaw-dropping performance (one of the best I’ve seen) but sometimes I feel as though she’s badly cast in bland roles – the Divergent series for example.

      • so so so agree.. – an yes so mis-cast in Divergent – I almost forgot about that one!! ha! & St. Vincent’s with that awful Russian accent..and Birdman..she needn’t have even been in it. oh well.. again let’s hope for a better 2016 for her. 🙂

  8. Glad you’re back! Great review! I haven’t seen this one myself, I originally assumed it would be one to miss.

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