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Greenberg

Director:  Noah Baumbach
Year Released:  2010
Rating:  2.5

Loose character study of a carpenter/musician (Ben Stiller) crashing at his brother's house in Los Angeles and coming to terms with aging and regret. It's a one-man show for Stiller to cool it on the 'nice guy' approach he's used to doing and savor the malevolence of his character - lending to some humorously acidic commentary - though attributing his skewed worldview to mental illness is a bit of a cop-out (at least Larry David in Woody's Whatever Works was a 'natural' curmudgeon). Further, Baumbach's inclusion of a 'love connection' between Stiller's verbal brute and the fragile Greta Gerwig - brought together over Stiller's inability to drive and their mutual responsibility to care for Stiller's brother's sickly dog - in order to suggest Stiller's mental "progress" and "maturity" isn't very likely to happen in any kind of 'real world' (in a way, the movie's bitterness is so deep-set it's hard to find any kind of positive change in these two main figures). In a subdued but important side role is Rhys Ifans, who once was wild but settled into the monotony and trials of married life - he goes back to his wife because of their kids, which is a difficult 'right thing to do.'

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