In While We’re Young, we meet Josh, played brilliantly by Ben Stiller, who is teaching a class on documentary filmmaking. He is a successful documentary filmmaker, yet he has an unfinished documentary film that he has been working on for a decade. He is unwilling to accept help in completing his film from the most talented people in his life – wife and father-in-law – which is his downfall.
He is befriended by a 20-something couple after class and is swindled into having dinner with them and his wife Cornelia, played lovingly by Naomi Watts. Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) become fast friends with Josh and Cornelia.
So, here we have a couple in their forties and a couple in their twenties becoming best friends. The older couple is set in their careers as filmmakers while the younger couple is not quite clear. We know Jamie wants to be a filmmaker but Darby’s role is unclear, which should be a hint to the older couple that all is not up and up with the younger couple.
Jamie begins to feed off of Josh in hopes of using him in order to rise to the status of celebrated documentary filmmaker. Josh slowly figures it out what Jamie is doing, but it is too late and all hell breaks loose when Josh and Cornelia come to terms with Jamie’s machination plan.
Charles Grodin plays Cornelia’s father as a celebrated filmmaker in his own right. I am impressed with Grodin’s underplaying the part and enjoyed his moments in the movie.
We are fortunate to have some name droppers for the secondary characters. Dree Hemingway, who is the great-grandaughter of Ernest, plays Jamie and Darby’s roommate and production assistant. Beasty Boy, Adam Horovitz plays Josh’s best friend Fletcher while Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary plays an interview subject for the documentaries.
The humor in Baumbach’s movie is funny in a problematical and gross way. The most impressive part about his movie is the issues of ethics, morality, and friendship within the film industry.