"Greenberg" Makes Me Mean

As the new movie, Greenberg, was starting at the Arclight in Los Angeles last Saturday, a woman yapped loudly on her phone, obviously talking to a babysitter to check in on her child, Hannah. "OH YEAH AND DID HANNAH EAT ALL HER DINNER? AND THEN WHAT DID YOU AND HANNAH DO? WHERE IS HANNAH NOW?"

At that point, I muttered, "Hannah's dead."

But it's not my fault! Even though it didn't begin yet, I contend that Greenberg made me do it!

A few seconds into seeing the trailer for this new Ben Stiller comedy a couple months ago, I thought to myself, "Oh my god, this film looks horrible." But then the trailer revealed that it was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, one of my favorite filmmakers, and I immediately changed my mind. It's difficult to capture the sensibility and the humor of Baumbach's work in a two-minute compilation of out-of-context clips.

Kicking and Screaming
, Mr. Jealousy, The Squid and the Whale, and the unfairly derided Margot at the Wedding are all on my list of favorite movies of all time. Baumbach often gets accused of creating seriously unlikeable characters (especially in those latter two films), but I personally have never felt that he lacks compassion for them.

Some artists have contempt for their characters and their audience (Michael Haneke, anyone?), but Baumbach is not in that camp. While he doesn't gaze upon his tragically and sometimes frustratingly flawed characters with, say, a loving eye, he does approach them with an understanding one.

Ben Stiller plays a—yup—unlikeable misanthrope, recently released from a mental hospital, who is even mean to the young, sexy woman who might lead to his redemption. And I know this might sound cheesy, but there's a little Greenberg in all of us. It makes us mutter things like, "Hannah's dead," at the movie theater.

On a final note, again, don't believe the trailer. This film is funny, funny, funny.


  1. I'll have to agree with you on Baumbach's presentation of characters and quite frankly, it's rather refreshing from the constant stream of cookie cutter male and female leads with "likeable" character flaws who are depicted in the best light possible.

  2. you are far nicer than i... the last time this happened to me, i turned around and said, "how about if i sprinkle some SHUT THE FUCK UP on your popcorn."

    they shut up.

    good review, and, since we like the same films.. i'll keep an eye out for this one.

  3. LOL - Quinn: I LOVE you for that!

    I loved Prince's come back, too.

    I grew up with a father who felt so strongly about silence in the theater (Well, Opera, that is.) that once I watched him roll up a program and thwack a kid in the back of the head with it.

  4. You know who else Greenberg makes mean?

    Armond White

  5. Oh, Howard, I can't read that. Armond White is a douchebag.

  6. Hey, That was a nice review. I have to agree with your views here. really a good one. Keep posting and do keep in touch.

  7. Haha...I'd agree except I didn't link the review. Rather it was an article about the shit storm of Armond White's beef with Noah Baumbach. Hilarious knowing the backstory to watch Armond explain how he is taking the high road.

  8. Re: Armond White. This is man who, in his vicious takedown of PRECIOUS, wrote that these movies instead were shining examples of black cinema: MEET DAVE, NORBIT, and LITTLE MAN, among others.

  9. Well, Noah Baumbach hates him, because his review of another Baumbach movie suggested that Noah should have been aborted. Which makes more sense after Armond explains it, but it doesn't make him any less crazy. So I guess you could say I appreciate Armond as a circus act.