I finally got a chance last week to watch Greenberg, Noah Baumbach’s serio-comedy starring Ben Stiller that released earlier this year (psst, link baiters, the song in the trailer is “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem). In it, Stiller plays the title character: a failed indie rock musician who still nurses his old wounds, and has – in turn – grown to become distant and self-centered at 40 years old; more so than all his friends remember, if I may clarify. Anyway, I loved it. The film is not only funny, dry, has a great soundtrack, and is a remarkable character study, but you can also see that Baumbach didn’t venture far from the script itself, which proves that that method can work. Sometimes.
Which brings me to the point I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: what works and what doesn’t in this life? And when is it okay to admit that, and figure out a new plan from there? At the heart of Greenberg is the story about a man who didn’t get what he wanted, and as a result, he’s been clueless about his next move ever since. Very few films capture arrested development so well, because there are a millions easy pratfalls for a storyteller in that process. And in that same respect, isn’t it so easy to write off people we know in real life with similar problems? The scariest thing in adulthood is “to finally embrace the life you never planned on”. Often times, it seems like the natural human inclination is to run away. But what I got out of Greenberg was that running is rarely a good option. And, if you’re going to run, don’t blame someone else for lacing up your New Balances. True, there is something scary about thinking beyond a life you cherished, or an ideal that helped you sleep at night. But also, you won’t know what else is in store if you keep wondering about what never happened. Keep your head up, work hard, be kind, and don’t get angry when your girlfriend makes you a Pink Floyd mixtape – it could be something amazing.