Greenberg - **1/2
Greenberg (Ben Stiller, quite good), you see, was once part of a cool band (The Magic Markers!), but when they got offered a record deal he ended up shooting it down (how much he intended to do that remains ambiguous) and now he’s a 40-year-old carpenter who’s recovering from a nervous breakdown. So when his rich developer brother and family take a working vacation to Vietnam he decides to watch their house and their dog and “do nothing for a while” and just find himself, man. In the meantime there’s Florence (Greta Gerwig), the Greenberg’s au pair who, at 25, really shouldn’t be having a midlife crisis quite so soon, and the dog gets sick and Greenberg reunites with all his old friends from back in the day, man, and he’s just finding himself, you know?
So Greenberg is an antisocial and hugely immature jerk who is completely unable to take criticism, and Ben Stiller makes his relatively sympathetic, which is good. The bigger problem is the Florence character, whose motivations are unknowable behind Baumbach unempathetic writing and Gerwig’s performance; the film fails the Bechdel test, and Florence ends up being something like the inverse of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the Pixie Dream Girl on Lithium, maybe. Her character is mostly bewildering, and ends up being little but a disappointing foil for Greenberg’s Journey To Maturity ™.(Seen at the Landmark Bethesda Row)