I’m going to say this up front: I didn’t like this film.

Out of the way?  Good.

Now, that doesn’t diminish the quality of the film.  It works pretty well.  The performances are pretty good (Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig give the best performances).  The film is competently filmed.  Everyone knows what they’re doing.  It works.

I just didn’t like it.

It took me a few days to figure out though.  Generally with movies, there’s a lead character you can either relate to or just like.  It’s the hero, per say, that you want to see succeed.  He wins at life, he gets the girl (or, well you can reverse that to be gender neutral), he’s the man.

This isn’t the typical movie.  Greenberg isn’t the hero, he’s the pest that you wish you can grind under your foot again and again.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, which I am.  I realized this after seeing this movie that this was how the movie was designed.  Maybe we’re supposed to hate Greenberg, or at least the character.  He’s fearful of generally everything and hardly ever takes blame for things he does.  One of the plot points during the film involves himself and Ivan (Rhys Ifans) and what happened with their band fifteen years prior.  Greenberg didn’t want to sign with a major label and be a sellout, but sometimes that’s the way the business works.  He doesn’t take blame though for the band breaking up (which he caused because of his refusal to sign), fifteen years after the fact.

Or take Greenberg and Florence.  Obviously there’s something going on, but every time something does, Greenberg pushes her away.  Then he acts like nothing has happened.  Florence, for her part, seems to still want to do something with him, maybe out of pity, maybe to get some stability in her life, who knows.  Or, maybe Florence just likes Greenberg and wants to be with him in spite of his flaws.  The ending is left open to that point.  (On that note, the best scenes in the movie do generally involve Florence.  Greta Gerwig plays her as a quirky twenty-something who is struggling to find a job in the world after college.  She’s just like us.  She’s easily the most relate-able character in the film.)

But I think it was Greenberg that made me not like this film.  You just can’t like him.  Maybe pity with him, but not like him, or even sympathize with him.  There came a point towards the end of the film, when there’s a party going on, in which I became completely uncomfortable with watching this film.  I started to really hate it.  It was almost like that feeling when I watched Transformers 2, but that was more of a dumb, mute shock from being assaulted with lights and sounds for two plus hours (all of it trying to take itself seriously too).  This was one of those seat squirming moments that you really wish would end, but it still drags itself along, trying to get across the point that Greenberg is this guy who’s not a good guy, or he might be, but he just has issues, but nothing we can relate to.  I didn’t like him.

I didn’t like this film.  Like I said, the film is fine for what it is, but if I was supposed to not like this film, then I suppose the mission was a success.  I suppose I’ll just slap a grade on it and move along.

B-

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