April 1st, 2010



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Still of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ben Stiller in GreenbergStill of Greta Gerwig in GreenbergNoah Baumbach and Ben Stiller at event of GreenbergStill of Ben Stiller and Rhys Ifans in GreenbergStill of Ben Stiller in GreenbergStill of Ben Stiller, Rhys Ifans and Greta Gerwig in Greenberg

A New Yorker moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he housesits for his brother, and he soon sparks with his brother's assistant.

Release Year: 2010

Rating: 6.2/10 (16,236 voted)

Critic's Score: 76/100

Director: Noah Baumbach

Stars: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Jason Leigh

We like Florence: she's considerate, sweet, pretty, and terrific with kids and dogs. She's 26, personal assistant to an L.A. family who's off on vacation. Her boss's brother comes in from New York City, fresh out of an asylum, to stay at the house. He's Roger, a carpenter, 40, gone from L.A. for 15 years. He arrives, doesn't drive, and needs Florence's help, especially with the family dog. He's also connecting with ex-mates - two men and one woman with whom he has a history. He over-analyzes, has a short fuse, and doesn't laugh at himself easily. As he navigates past and present, he's his own saboteur. And what of Florence, is Roger one more responsibility for her or something else?

Writers: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Noah Baumbach

Greta Gerwig - Florence Marr
Koby Rouviere - Greenberg Boy
Sydney Rouviere - Greenberg Girl
Chris Messina - Phillip Greenberg
Susan Traylor - Carol Greenberg
Merritt Wever - Gina
Emily Lacy - Gallery Band Member
Aaron Wrinkle - Gallery Band Member
Heather Lockie - Gallery Band Member
Chris Coy - Guy at Gallery
Ben Stiller - Roger Greenberg
Zach Chassler - Marlon
Mina Badie - Peggy
Rhys Ifans - Ivan Schrank
Blair Tefkin - Megan - Beller's Party

Taglines: He's got a lot on his mind.


Official Website: Official Facebook | Official site |

Release Date: 1 April 2010

Filming Locations: Laurel Pet Hospital - 7970 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, California, USA

Opening Weekend: $118,152 (USA) (21 March 2010) (3 Screens)

Gross: $4,216,789 (USA) (23 May 2010)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Original cast included Amy Adams and Mark Ruffalo. Maggie Gyllenhaal was considered for the lead role after Amy Adams dropped out.

Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): One of the complaint letters Greenberg sends has an address on "Eigth" Avenue.

Florence Marr: You like old things.
Roger Greenberg: A shrink said to me once that I have trouble living in the present, so I linger on the past because I felt like I never really lived it in the first place, you know?

User Review

Brilliant, Heartwarming Character Study That's Not For Everybody

Rating: 10/10

... (which, if you've read the other reviews here, you know is a massive understatement).

Let's start with the two obvious stumbling blocks to loving this rather astonishingly good and (for some) altogether life-affirming and lovable movie.

-- The main character is pretty much a jerk.

-- There's no plot.

Now, realize: the main character is *supposed* to be unlikeable. And the movie does not try to have a plot. And you might wonder, how can a movie that starts with these two conditions possibly be any good, let alone some be some kind of masterpiece? So let me explain.

Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller in the performance of his life) is by no means completely unlikeable. He's quite funny, an adept verbal wit (there is no situational comedy in this movie at all; it's funny in places because Greenberg is often funny). He has very firm and uncompromising moral ideals. He cares deeply and responsibly for animals. What makes him unlikeable is that he sometimes, unexpectedly, treats people, especially people he cares for, like crap -- he uses that verbal wit like a blunt knife and goes on unwarranted tirades. And he has almost no insight into himself (occasionally the movie is very funny at his expense.) You know that guy in your family who is fundamentally, deep down, a very good person, but is all too often an incredible pain and aggravation to be with? That's Greenberg. He is, in short, the sort of person who is much easier to love than to like.

We are told from the outset that he has, in fact, just been released from a mental institution, and this is one of the least clichéd and most fully-rounded portraits of a seriously mentally ill person in recent cinema. We watch as he works really, really hard to sabotage any hope he has for a happy life.

He meets and is immediately smitten with a woman (played terrifically by Greta Gerwig; it's nearly as much her story as his) who has her own set of neuroses, but ones that are much more ordinary than his. We watch their relationship play out over a few months exactly as it might in real life, without any set of causally related events to provide an engine of plot.

So what narrative tension is there? Why keep watching? Very simply, if you like Roger Greenberg enough to have empathy and sympathy for his plight, if you can see past the sarcastic surface to the deep pain underneath, if you can recognize a little bit of yourself in him, then you are going to root for him to get his act together, to cut all that nonsense out, to start to understand himself --in short, to start to recover some sanity, to find the first cobblestones of the path to some kind of happiness.

Well, that's what happens, and it's wonderful to watch. (That it's possible to watch the movie and not notice it happening is obvious from some of the reviews here, including one that criticized the ending as incomplete; in fact, this may have the best and most perfect last line of any movie I can think of.)

If you didn't much like _Sideways_ or _Up in the Air_, I can guarantee that you will hate _Greenberg_ (I mean, imagine those movies, but with no plot, too!). If you loved those movies -- if you have no problem watching emotionally stunted people slowly grow up -- then you'll probably love this, too, and you may even love the way that the lack of conventional plot makes the movie completely realistic and hence especially powerful emotionally. I can't wait to see it again and I suspect I'll watch it many times.


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