Midlife crises are always rife with complications, and those complications often make great fodder for fiction. The new movie “While We’re Young”, written and directed by the outstanding young filmmaker Noah Baumbach, shows that the topic can be funny, a bit touching and even a tad mysterious all at the same time. But is it dateworthy?
While We’re Young
The film features the powerhouse foursome of established stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, and red-hot rising stars Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, as two couples who become unlikely friends despite a generational divide. In casting such appealing actors, Baumbach manages to pull off the difficult trick of finding likable human characters amid the often annoying world of New York City hipsters.
Stiller plays Josh, an established yet struggling filmmaker who has been stuck for the past decade on a documentary that’s so pretentious and boring, even he can’t describe it easily himself. Watts is his wife Cornelia, who has never really found a strong career and who also harbors regrets that she wasn’t able to have children despite numerous scientific attempts to conceive back in her thirties.
While teaching a continuing-education class on documentaries, Josh is approached one night by a young couple named Jamie (Driver) and Darby (Seyfried). Jamie claims to be a passionate fan of Josh’s work, and asks him to meet up outside of class despite the fact that Jamie is only auditing the course for free.
Yet, eager for any sense of praise and validation as he’s mired in his early forties, Josh takes him up on the offer, and the two couples become fast friends. Josh and Cornelia had long felt the rest of their friends slipping away from them as everyone else became parents, so teaming up with vibrant hipsters eager to include them in activities outside of “mommy music” classes and parenting discussion groups is instantly appealing.
Cornelia joins Darby in a hip-hop dance class, while Josh starts wearing odd hats chosen by Jamie, and the two couples bike through Brooklyn and sneak through subway tunnels together. But something about Jamie always seems just a little too perfect.
When Jamie starts catching breaks on his own documentary project that Josh could only dream of – and even gains the approval of Cornelia’s dad (Charles Grodin), a legendary documentarian who has never embraced Josh’s work – Josh is determined to find out if there’s a larger game being played against him. And it’s in this mystery, which remains mostly comic in tone but is ultimately nearly as complex and surprising a revelation as the ending of “The Sixth Sense,” that Baumbach raises the movie to an entirely different level.
Is It Good For Catholic Couples?
“While We’re Young” is rated R for its language, and nothing else, and while there are a couple rants by Stiller in which he uses the F word a few times within a minute – including a big argument with Watts – the movie overall is a positive portrait of two married couples in a New York City rife with unmarried cohabitation.
Beyond the movie’s pleasantly funny surface and eventual sense of mystery, “Young” also offers some depth regarding the pressures to have children and the toll it can take on those who are unable to do so. It balances touching moments in which Josh and Cornelia express their sadness and frustration at not being able to bring a child to term (they’ve had a couple of miscarriages), against hipster couples who seem to have babies just because “it’s time”, as if the children are merely lifestyle accessories.
While I can’t give away the ending of the movie, which comes after a huge plot twist, the story does ultimately come to a very life-affirming ending that is perfect for Josh and Cornelia and will make viewers value their own station in life, no matter their age, as well.
Add it up, and you’ve got:
- Appealing stars in fun roles.
- A relevant storyline that’s sure to get you talking after the movie about your own relationships.
- It’s all kept clean enough that despite the R rating, there’s no way you’ll feel awkward watching it.
All in all, this is one VERY dateworthy movie.