This wry comedy-drama represents the commercial breakthrough of indie maestro Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Greenberg, The Squid and the Whale), and it’s the funniest Woody Allen movie Woody never made. There’s even angst in the title. But there are darker threads woven through this sharply observed social satire.
The stagnated lives of a struggling Manhattan documentarian (Ben Stiller) and his wife (Naomi Watts) are invigorated when they befriend, somewhat improbably, a much younger Brooklyn couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). As the two couples share their worlds, often amusingly, a strange dynamic emerges. What are these two couples looking for? What do they think they’ll find?
Ben’s been agonizing over his latest six-hour opus (vaguely about “America”) for the past ten years, and it doesn’t help that his father-in-law (good to see Charles Grodin back at work) happens to be an award-winning, legendary documentary filmmaker.
Aside from one pointless sequence about halfway through in which everyone drops mescaline and throws up a lot, this is a confident, inspired and original movie for grownups. You have to have lived a while for all this to click.
The film addresses such themes as ambition, friendship, parenting, generational jealousy and the ebb and flow of our hopes and dreams as we age. Bottom line: As a Baby Boomer, I found this battle between Gen-Xers and Millennials highly satisfying. Japanese title: Young Adult New York. (97 min)