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Greenberg (2010)

March 29, 2010

3/10 Grumpy Bastards

About as fun as being forced to spend two hours with someone I wouldn’t want to spend two seconds with.

Greenberg is about a guy who goes to housesit at his brother’s Hollywood home for eight weeks right after having a nervous breakdown and bouncing from a mental hospital. While there he tries to reconnect with his old friends, writes a lot of letters to bigwigs telling them how much he thinks they suck, and actively does nothing with his life while striking up a terribly strange liking to his brother’s assistant who’s also helping out around the house.

It’s the third movie by writer/director Noah Baumbach and after digging his debut effort The Squid and the Whale quite a bit way back when and thinking the trailer here was pretty swell, I had relatively high hopes for Greenberg. In retrospect, I think I was just jaded by the awesome LCD Soundsystem song that played over it.

See, here’s the thing about our guy Roger Greenberg – Roger Greenberg is a fucking douche.

With the exception of slow-walkers and those jerks on the subway who think their headphones double as a ghetto blaster, there aren’t a whole lot of people out there in the world that I simply can’t freakin’ stand. Unfortunately, Greenberg is one of these people.

He’s a perpetual whiner, the proud curmudgeon, the rare individual who doesn’t have an off-switch and always, always has something to bitch about regardless of how it might affect others. In a nutshell, Greenberg is the worst and how this guy even has friends to reconnect with or a girl to find him the least bit interesting is beyond me.

Now, maybe I’m too young to really get Greenberg, maybe I need to watch this again when I get my mid-life crisis, maybe I should learn to not complain about shit day-in and day-out, but right now, I don’t see the draw. And even though he was miscast in the part to begin with, it’s not Ben Stiller’s fault either. My good buddy Fred said it best when he turned to me mid-movie and said, “I don’t know if we’re supposed to find him endearing or something, because he is just horrible.”

And that’s the real problem with Greenberg – he’s just a horrible person to focus a movie on. Doesn’t help either that he only starts to realize this by the last ten minutes and by that time I could have cared less about his epiphany.

On the other hand, everyone else is A-okay. Greta Gerwig is the most interesting character of the bunch as Greenberg’s romantic interest and her performance more or less carries the movie, and Rhys Ifans is also pretty good as Greenberg’s “best friend”, Ivan. But like I said, Stiller wasn’t the guy to play Greenberg and every time he tried to get really serious, it just felt like Zoolander throwing a temper tantrum. It’s not that he’s bad, it just didn’t seem like a right fit.

It’s not often I come across a movie protagonist that I find myself completely loathing like I did Greenberg and I was kind of in disbelief at how much I’ve found myself ripping him a new one in this review, but what can I say, the dude sucked. He’s not the villain, he’s not the anti-hero, he’s just an asshole that deserves a swift kick in the balls and made my blood boil with each new scene.

With the right frame of mind and the right amount of cynicism towards the world and everything in it, you might just find yourself totally digging Greenberg, but since I’m clearly not part of the choir on this one, I’m gonna keep movin’ on. Just a strange script with really odd relationships, a crap sense of humor that I didn’t get a single laugh out of, wildly unrealistic and bizarre situations that lead to some incredibly awkward sex scenes and a crap main character to round it all out. Luckily there’s some good acting thrown in there, but, boy howdy, what a douche.

At least we got a new “Between Two Ferns” out of it.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2010 2:02 am

    Dude, I just finished reviewing this, clicked on your site, and saw you posted this. Dope.

    Your sentiments are right on, I guess I gave the film a little more leeway…just because.

    BTW, how much weight do you think stiller had to shed between tropic thunder and this?

  2. March 29, 2010 7:16 am

    Ben Stiller trying to do that rare dramatic role that others like Sandler, and Carrey have done. But I guess, there’s no Golden Globe nomination for this one.

  3. March 29, 2010 11:53 am

    Try on Big Fan (w/ Patton Oswald), the character sounds the same (but not as smart) only he gets his come uppins and Oswald is a better actor, if funnier looking.

    • March 29, 2010 11:59 am

      Reviewed Big Fan a month or two ago, totally dug it. Characters were definitely different in that they’re both pretty pathetic, but Oswalt is at least endearing and passionate whereas Greenberg is just an insufferable human being. Good call though, Big Fan’s good stuff.

  4. March 29, 2010 2:07 pm

    Bummer, was hoping for good things with this one. I’ll probably still see it, but at least my expectations will be dampered.

    • March 29, 2010 2:08 pm

      Bummer indeed. Hampered expectations couldn’t hurt with this one.

  5. March 30, 2010 6:52 am

    Oh no, don’t tell me it’s bad! I was sooooo looking forward to this one.
    Okay, Stiller being the lead in this story bugged me from the beginning (and felt just wrong, especially Stiller in a mental institution. Riiiiight.) He’s just so annoying. But i really like Baumbach’s previous work (have you seen ‘Margot at the Wedding?’), and he’s really good in casting actors against their type… so I thought it’s still going to be fine… but… Bummer indeed!

  6. April 2, 2010 7:17 pm

    Well saw it yesterday and while portions of the movie are slow the concepts presented are interesting, but they’re never fully fleshed-out.


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