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Roger Greenberg (Stiller) is single, fortyish and deliberately doing nothing. In search of a place to restart his life, he agrees to housesit for his brother in LA and tries to reconnect with his former bandmate (Rhys Ifans) and successful ex-girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh). But old friends aren't necessarily still best friends, and Greenberg soon finds himself forging a connection with his brother's personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig). Despite his best attempts not to be drawn in, Greenberg comes to realize that he may at last have found a reason to be happy. Critics rave, “Greenberg has a soul, a heart and a sense of humor.” (Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com)
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 161
- Fresh: 120
- Rotten: 41
- Average Rating: 6.7/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: As a study of stasis and of people conscious of not living the lives they had imagined for themselves, the picture offers a bracing undertow of seriousness beneath the deceptively casual, dramatically offhand surface.
Fresh: His sharpest observations are reserved for preternaturally intelligent, hyper-self-conscious outsiders whose existential crises are the failure of the world-and, to some extent, themselves-to live up to their own high expectations.
Fresh: Far from the usual slapstick laced with smarts comedy, Greenberg is Ben Stiller's Punch Drunk Love.
Rotten: Stiller loses his natural comic appeal chasing after the hero's frowns and tics...
Greenberg : Raw and strangely effective. but not for everyone.
"Greenberg"--both the character, as well as the film itself-- is not for everyone.
Ben Stiller plays Roger Greenberg, a man who is mentally unstable and who suffers from an implied social anxiety. After coming out of a mental hospital he stays at his brothers' house while they're away.
It's there that Roger resides, doing virtually nothing at all. He doesn't drive, has more enemies than friends, and is socially awkward. He occupies his time by writing customer complaints to companies about parts of their products that bother him. When he's not doing that, he's staring out the windows of the house worrying about things that only a lonely man can be concerned about, like whether or not it's ok if the pool overflows on a rainy day.
Florence (Greta Gerwig) is a 20-something-year-old girl who lives a similar life to that of Greenberg. The only difference is that she doesn't have to be alone with her thoughts, instead she shares them with her best friend and in return she gets good advice, etc. But they are both equally vulnerable, alone, and awkward. She drives him around everywhere and soon becomes Rogers only connection to a social life, making for an almost instant sexual connection.
This is where the movies interest focuses on, the relationship between these two vulnerable people trying very hard to find new ways to convince themselves that they have meaningful lives.
Greenberg is brilliantly acted, written, and convincingly crafted. The dialogue and the characters are written with a sense of realism that movies today lack, and they drive this slow paced movie forward, taking us along for the ride. In the end you either hate it or you love it, you either understood it or you didn't, you either took something from it or felt like it took time from you.
I, fortunately, loved it and found it to be a great portrait of a bitter man struggling with the idea of finally being accepted--by somebody else, as well as by himself. He knew not what to do in the situation because he had never been there, and knew not what to say, how to feel, or who to be.
"I'm trying to do nothing right now", he says to everybody who asks.
"That's brave at our age" says his childhood lover who now is married with two kids.
But, Roger Greenberg was indeed a brave character who dipped his toe into a world that wanted him to dive in; a character who dared to enter a world that he completely despised.
And this is a movie about what happened next.
Complex and mature
Greenberg is reflection on a middle-aged man who's had trouble growing up and learning how to live in his own skin. It's far more of a drama than a comedy. It moved a little slow but held my attention mostly because I could empathize with the character. The awkward female lead was a gem.
The bad reviews must all be from kids who can't possibly understand a movie about a 41 year old man wirh old resentments and lifelong character flaws that he still hasn't gotten over. There's a unique air about the movie that holds this discomfort in focus the entire time. Watch it again in another 20 years kids and it'll all make sense.
Greenberg was great.
(41 yr old male)
Not a Comedy.
It's an okay film, but it's not a comedy. Should be under drama...
- Greenberg (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- Various Artists