Wednesday, June 01, 2011
A 40-year old ex-musician, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) from New York suffers a mental breakdown and is recuperating. While his brother Phil leaves for Vietnam on a holiday, Phil invites Roger to stay over at his place in LA. Roger, a carpenter now, is a moody man who can immerse himself with music. He even used to have a band but because he stuck to his principles of not wanting to yield control over his music, the band lost out on a record contract. The band members went their seperate ways and Roger became a carpenter. Greenberg begins with such promise, it is hard not to expect a peach of a movie.
Instead what we get is a half-baked character in Roger who at one hand is pretty comfortable with kissing his brother's assistant (Greta Gerwig) who he has hardly met and at the same time is asocial enough to not like attending parties or calling people on their birthdays. It is such inconsistency that runs through the movie so frequently that you should be forgiven for wanting to give up midway. Once the premise for the movie is set, you find yourself asking the question that inevitably sounds the death-knell of a memorable movie viewing experience - "Where is this going?"
Ben Stiller plays Roger with an earnest streak but the character is too short of substance for Stiller to leave a mark. Greta Gerwig plays a girl who is just off a long relationship and is still scarred by the breakup. Rhys Ifans has a 10-year old kid and seems to be the one guy who is most comfortable with his present. Yet, the time he is around Roger, he is morose. It seems all the lead characters have a demon they're resisting from within but because the definition of the genesis of their struggles is kept vague, the redemption does little to lift your emotions.
Greenberg is the very kind of pain that some of the characters try to portray they're struggling with. It tries to do with a Sideways kind of treatment- the protagonist's past being made bare for the viewers through conversations in the present. It could've been a great move for Ben Stiller to come up trumps in the role of Roger Greenberg in a movie like this- a story that veered towards a drama instead of a comedy. Instead, it turned out to be the kind of movie, that even at a reasonable 107 minutes, becomes a trying experience, watchable only if you're a Stiller devotee.