Greenberg made me sad, and not the good Steel Magnolias kind of sad. I went to see this film by myself on a gloomy San Francisco weekday afternoon (thanks to a few wonderful days off between gigs), and I expected dark comedy. But even dark comedy is supposed to be funny, and as much as I wish it weren’t the case, Greenberg just isn’t that funny.
I love director Noah Baumbach. The Squid and the Whale is one of my personal favorites, as anyone will attest who has heard me repeatedly abuse the pretentiously hilarious “minor Dickens” line from that gem of a film.
I love Ben Stiller. He’s a comedic genius clearly trying to expand his repertoire. Unfortunately, Greenberg aims high, falls flat, and ultimately makes me want to email Robert Redford (CEO of Sundance Cinemas, and I heard he used to act) and demand a refund of my nominal amenities fee.
Greta Gerwig shines as Greenberg’s love interest (she’s his brother’s personal assistant, lucky enough to care for our miserable protagonist during his stay in L.A.). It’s unfortunate that her exemplary depiction of confident feminine insecurity (say what?) can’t overcome Stiller’s scene-stealing, unfunny misanthropy.
Greenberg should have been my kind of movie. I’m a guy who knows (and occasionally lives) pretention. The words Sigur Ros have actual positive meaning to me, and I’m acutely aware of the notion of celluloid dogma, more in relation to the Danish film vision spelled with an “e” than the terrible Kevin Smith film. I love the idea of this movie; it’s simply a case of poor execution.
But I’m not here to be obnoxious. I’m just a guy with a blog. I of course became a guy with a blog because I’m 100% certain I have important things to say, things that will change the very world we live in. Just like a Hot Tub Time Machine (review coming soon).