It’s one of those things that we just say to the point of nausea when we are of a certain age, looking back on past regret as the world changes around us and not necessarily appreciating the spot that we have while presenting ourselves with a plethora of shoulda, coulda, and woulda scenarios. While We’re Young is a fresh and delightful comedy that truly dives into the joys of getting a little older and being comfortable with your place in life.
While We’re Young is the story of Cornelia and Josh (Naomi Watts & Ben Stiller) a couple in their early forties who are at a cross roads and find themselves enamored with a young couple (Adam Driver & Amanda Seyfried) that they’ve just met while they feel like their friends their own age are squeezing them out of their lives as they all join, as they describe it, the “cult of baby”.
Sharp, quick witted, heartfelt and fun, writer/director Noah Baumbach is truly finding his niche the older he gets and what was considered art house comedy actually finds a home with audiences everywhere as we get to see that no matter how strange and weird getting older is our friends are still are friends and there is no set pace to how you live your life.
Firmly entrenched in the awkward and uncomfortable beats that are rife in love and romance, Baumbach is finally beginning to feel at home in his own stories and rather than having them sink into any kind of preposterous territory, he allows these things to feel genuine and funny. We all have plans when we are fresh out of school and full of energy, but 15-20 years for better or for worse things hardly ever go as planned. Baumbach resists any gag filled moments as all the comedy comes out of some very genuine places that can only come from wisdom. The narrative moves at a fairly crisp pace and nothing ever comes across as awkward or forced and this might be the first movie in his entire cannon that manages his trade mark of comedy and the human drama of life co-existing side by side. The message that we can only truly embrace ourselves as individuals when we stop trying to manipulate the world around us is a clear and delightful one that more and more people need to hear, if only for a reminder to those who don’t have two kids or are stressed out about the direction of their life. It’s OK because we’ve all been there and that comes across in some thoughtful performances.
When he’s doing Zoolander or just a dumb bit, Ben Stiller can actually put together a damn fine performance as both he and Baumbach works exceptionally well together. His highly principled and well intentioned documentarian Josh who just can’t seem to get back on track after one success crippled him from being able to finish his follow up is so relatable as he is filled with anxiety at his friends and family around him that who are seemingly moving on to big and better things while he is stuck in a rut. Stiller makes him an artistic every man who can’t live up to the weight of his own expectations . Watts matches him note for note as the uncertainty of anyone in their early 40’s without a child is something that can be seen as clear as day on anyone’s face. On the other end of the spectrum both Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried work wonders as the seemingly fun but secretly manipulative young couple that Stiller and Watts can’t help but envy as they are stuck between the social expectations of what they feel is expected of people their age and what actually happens. Life isn’t about filling a slot or living up to the things that you think that you are supposed to be doing, it’s about living as best you can. It’s a great cast from top to bottom as Charles Grodin, Maria Dizzia, Matthew Maher and Adam Horovitz round out the ensemble cast.
It’s very much a movie about being comfortable in your own skin, and While We’re Young reminds us that there really is no such thing on either side of the spectrum that either of us need to do, “while we’re young”.