Noah Baumbach, who made the coming-of-age dramedy The Squid and the Whale and the less-enjoyable Margot at the Wedding, tackles another minor-key vein of upper-middle-class Gen Y. This film, which floats between dark comedy and unsatisfying character study, depicts a prickly, emotionally stunted star-of-his-own-life who wears his defects as a badge of honor -- and armor. (See kids, if you're not neurotic, then you're not trying hard enough.)
Our antihero is Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller, with a captivatingly bad hairdo), a failed 40-year-old who lands in L.A. to housesit for his brother. There, he makes the acquaintance of the much-younger Florence (Greta Gerwig), his brother's personal assistant, and the two fumble through a series of connections and disconnects.
Roger kinda likes Florence, but he's a bratty jerk, prone to sabotaging relationships. (And not just with romantic partners: The film is strewn with Roger's tramped-upon friends and family.) Florence is also revealed to be rudderless and, while kinder than Roger, still a frustrating mass of unresolved issues and dumb decisions. I suppose there's some meager entertainment in this ride-along -- there's not much plot, so "hanging" with these two is what the film offers. Thus, one's enjoyment will be determined by one's tolerance for spending 90 minutes with people who are more irritating than not, and discovering that ... uh ... irritating people need love, too. Or maybe not. Starts Fri., March 26. Manor