‘I want to be unbridgeable’ this is probably the most poignant line in this movie. At one point I thought that this was going to be an amazing movie with a strong message about the basis of humanity and intergenerational understanding, but it seriously lost its way.
The movie starts with Josh and Cornelia (Stiller and Watts), a middle aged couple who are stuck in a rut, they are childless and their friends are in the throws of having their first child. Josh is an unsuccessful documentary creator, who has been working on his latest piece for the last 10 years, and much like this film, has lost his way. This is compounded by the fact that Cornelia’s father is a successful documentarian and she produces his work. Josh makes money by teaching adult advancement learning classes, and one night meets Jamie and Darby (Driver and Seyfried). Jamie explains to Josh that he is a massive fan of his work, and had brought his last documentary on a video (Yes video) from eBay and raves about a scene with in it. The couple end up joining Josh and Cornelia for dinner, and they strike up a friendship, despite Jamie and Darby being in their mid 20’s.
Jamie appears to be generous and unassuming. His lust for life is infectious to Josh and Cornelia and they soon find themselves ditching their long standing friends to get up to all sorts of crazy youngster antics with their new found friends.
Jamie pitches a documentary idea to Josh, which he initially rejects, explaining that it needs more meat on the bones to have legs in the industry, but Jamie goes ahead and starts the idea. Jamie later pitches to Josh that they should co-direct but Josh declines, but they conveniently run in to Josh’s father in law, and as Josh pays the check, Jamie makes waves in leaving his number with Josh’s father in law.
In the middle of all of these crazy antics, Cornelia learns to dance hip hop and Josh buys a hat…they start to take on the hipster lifestyle that Jamie and Darby present to them, rejecting invites from their former friends, and peaking at the attendance of an Ayahuasca ceremony. Now if you have never heard of this or think that I am just making words up, let me explain…Ayahuasca is a brew made from the banisteriopsis caapi vine, and has been used in spiritual ceremonies as it induces hallucinations as well as makes you vomit. This is believed to draw out the bad spirits and demons from your body leaving you a better and more rounded person. The ceremony has Amazonian roots. Josh’s character is one of a self centred, egotist who cannot share credit for work and will not work with others. He desperately wants success but also fears it, which is why he has taken so long in producing his next documentary. He is completely intimidated by his father in law. The ceremony makes him have a revelation about working with Jamie. Josh decides he wants to be more like Jamie. He also tells Cornelia that he wants a child, which up to this point they have maintained that they chose not to have children, but we find out she is unable to. Cornelia also accidentally kisses Jamie thinking he is Josh.
After the ceremony, Jamie and Josh travel to Poughkeepsie, to interview a guy, that Jamie says contacted him through Facebook that he used to go to school with. As they arrive Jamie raves about how this guy was the coolest in school, and in his charming way makes the audience feel that there was a real admiration between the two. As they arrive at the house, they find that Kent (The guy) isn’t there, but is in a hospital. They go to the hospital to perform the interview and find that he has tried to slash his wrists. Jamie recalls information about Kent, and then talks about how he was an inspiration while at school as his mother was suffering ovarian cancer and Kent’s poetry helped him through, especially the line “I want to be unbridgeable”.
As the group of film makers leave, they grab a bite to eat and Josh googles Kent, finding out that he has been in Afghanistan and has a series of notable events linked to him. This gives Jamie’s film legs.
From here the film takes a turn for the worst, Jamie and Josh’s relationship takes a sinister and downward spiral. Josh and Cornelia argue at a preview of Jamie’s film, where Josh’s father in law has been invited and josh realises that he has been played. Jamie has orchestrated the whole meeting and wheedled his way in to their lives to gain access to his father in law and promote his own goal. Josh storms out and finds Darby outside, and they go drinking. Darby tells josh about Cornelia and Jamie’s kiss, and that Kent was actually her high school friend and it was her mother who had died from ovarian cancer. She explains that Jamie is actually only out for himself and that their marriage is a sham as people are more likely to help a couple than a hipster guy on his own. Josh doesn’t return home that night and the next morning finds Cornelia and Jamie having breakfast as they talk about Jamie’s movie. Josh loses it, saying that this is all a charade and that he is going to uncover Jamie. He goes back to visit Kent and gets the full story from him.
He later goes back to talk to Darby and remembers that there is a ceremony honouring his father in law that he is supposed to be at. Darby loans him a jacket and a pair of roller blades so he can get to the ceremony. When he does get there, Jamie is sat at the table with Josh’s family and as he goes to a bar, Josh confronts him. He tells him that the way he has produced his documentary is unethical as it is basically all made up, Jamie counter acts with he has just altered time lines and friendships. This angers josh as he goes on a rant about how Jamie has no fear and his youth has made him numb to reality. All this is going on while father in law give a speech about integrity in documentary writing.
Josh makes Jamie admit to all around him about what he has done, and father in law says that he doesn’t really think that it matters as it’s a good documentary none the less, which completely trumps the whole speech he just gave.
Josh and Cornelia reconcile and….every one breath a sigh of relief, they decide to adopt a baby and get back to their old friends. The film ends on them going to pick up there child, and reading an article on Jamie as a successful documentarian.
Urgh. This had the potential, and the actors to make this quite good. But this has just turned in to a stereotypical film about generation gaps, ego, and everything turning out ok in the end.
I mean why can’t a couple just chose not to have children? This story line brings nothing to the film with the exception that they don’t have to find a baby sitter so that they can go off and do what they want. Would it have been beyond the realms of reason for them not to have had some devastating issues which meant they couldn’t bare children. Is it so inconceivable that a women can chose not to have children? Apparently.
Josh and Jamie’s relationship almost verges on a thrilleresque quality but it never comes to fruition. Cornelia and Jamie could have had some primordial attraction but that never really gets off the ground either.
Noah Baumbach directed this film and actually I love the look and feel he creates, but the story line is stale. It’s probably the best homage to Woody Allen film you’ll come across especially with the characters of Josh and Cornelia being attracted to youth and vibrancy over old age.
Would I tell you to watch this…probably not.