STORY: Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Watts) are a middle-aged couple whose lives are re-energized when they meet a much younger, hip couple Jamie (Driver) and Darby (Seyfried). However, the exchange of influences between the two couples doesn’t turn out to be all that symbiotic in the long run.
REVIEW: Josh and Cornelia pretty much have nothing to complain about the way life treats them, except for the proverbial white elephant in the room that they can’t ignore – their lives as individuals and as a married couple, are empty. Their sex life is in the doldrums and they go about day-to-day tasks like automatons. So it’s no surprise that when Darby and, more specifically, Jamie enter their lives one day after Josh winds up giving a lecture in a college, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Josh and Jamie’s ‘bromance’ blossoms and the former loves everything about Jamie – from his worn sneakers to his expansive LP collection. In a short while, Josh and Cornelia learn to loosen up and live a little.
This also means adopting various forms of hipster cred, going to underground gatherings, taking hip hop dance classes and Josh sporting a fedora (de rigueur for a hipster) with dogged determination. But the smoothly shrewd Jamie is no slouch in the ambition department. He’ll not only squeeze Josh for every benefit, but also treat his own girlfriend like a glorified assistant. The relationship dynamics between the couples and a tongue-in-cheek look at generational gaps are the most delightful aspects of the film. Baumbach weaves in elements of playful-but-pointed social satire well enough, without making it all seem too heavy.
The casting is spot-on. Stiller is endearingly sincere as a filmmaker desperate for funding, but won’t compromise on his ethics. Seyfried and Driver go about their job without an ounce of hamming and Watts’ performance is a lesson in disarming straightforwardness. And Adam ‘Ad-rock’ Horovitz (of hip hop group Beastie Boys) is a natural at playing a stay-at-home dad. Other than that, the deft editing and the quick pace makes this a fun watch.