Date Reviewed:
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12th June 2010

Summary:

Ben Stiller stars in this funny and moving tale from the Oscar-nominated writer/director of 'The Squid and the Whale'.

Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is a single, 40-something man at a crossroads in his life. Facing up to the realisation that he doesn't really like people, Greenberg finds himself in Los Angeles, house-sitting for six weeks for his more successful and married-with-children brother. In search of a place to restart his life, Greenberg attempts to reconnect with old friends including his former bandmate Ivan (Rhys Ifans). But old friends aren't necessarily still best friends, and Greenberg soon finds himself spending more and more time with his brother's personal assistant Florence (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring singer and also something of a lost soul. Despite Greenberg's best attempts not to be drawn in, he and Florence manage to forge a connection, and Greenberg realises he may at last have found a reason to be happy.

Review:

The trailer for the film made it seem as though it was a comedy but it wasn't. It was more a poignant drama on dysfunctional relationships and how people deal with them. The laughs were few and mostly unintentional.

The main character is 40 year old failure Roger Greenberg (played by Ben Stiller) who is staying at his wealthy brother's house in Los Angeles while the brother and his family are off on vacation in Vietnam. Roger is recovering from a "nervous breakdown" while living in NYC and is convalescing in LA. While there, he is introduced to Florence, his brother's Nanny, a pretty and sexually accommodating 26 year old. They have a quick sexual encounter at Florence's apartment and Roger promptly departs, ashamed of taking advantage of his brother's employee.

This is pretty much how the movie evolves. Roger gets together with old friends, gets into petty arguments over the silliest things, storms off in a huff, and than patches things over with lame and utterly self absorbed apologies.

Roger gets into repeated arguments with Florence, with his friend Ivan, and others in the movie, to the point where one has to wonder why anyone would be friends with this guy. Roger is irredeemably unpleasant, self absorbed, irrational, and not someone anyone in their right mind would want to be around.

If you can get past Roger's noxious personality, the movie is pretty good. I liked Greta Gerwig as Florence. She was the real star of the movie.