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An uptight documentary filmmaker and his wife find their lives loosened up a bit after befriending a free-spirited younger couple.

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While We're Young movie full length review - The kind of movie you'd be happy to stumble upon, but I wouldn't really rush to see it

"While We're Young" is a bit confused as to what exactly it's supposed to be about. The end result is a mixed bag. With that said, I enjoyed watching the film. I liked it without loving it.

The story follows Josh (Ben Stiller), who is married to Cornelia (Naomi Watts). They're in their mid forties and things are going alright but they're starting to feel their age. Josh has been working on a documentary for a whopping 8 years now and is no closer to getting it done than he was the day shooting began. Their closest friends have all started families and you'd think this would mean that Josh and Cornelia would embrace their own freedom, having no children of their own, but they are tied down with work and everyday life way too much to be even the slightest bit spontaneous. One day they meet a hipster couple that re-energizes them. The odd thing is that this couple consists of 28-or-so year old Jamie (Adam Driver) and his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried).

For the first half, this movie is a wakeup call to everyone watching. "Act your own age!" it tells us. As Josh and Cornelia begin getting to know their new friends, they feel pretty awesome. They're enthusiastic about their free time, they try new things, and they feel inspired. It's like they're falling in love with each other all over again and they see this new world they've been missing out on. For a while, you're thinking that these two are the best thing that happened to this middle-aged couple. I was convinced of how cool Jamie and Darby were. Maybe hipsters have really gotten on to something worth looking into. Who doesn't like the idea of making your own ice cream, or having the satisfaction of working on a desk that's the perfect size, height and colour... because you made it yourself? There was even a tiny moment where I saw their collection of VHS tapes and I thought to myself "I wish I hadn't upgraded all of mine to DVD and Blu-ray". All the while though, you sense that this isn't right. Josh isn't what I would call an old man, but he's too old to be biking around the city. Cornelia is past the age where she can spontaneously decide to join a hip hop class. Maybe what the movie is trying to say is that it's important to reinvent yourself from time to time so you don't end up in a slump... but you don't want to go overboard with it. If you do you'll end up losing track of where you started. It's like that question about the boat. If over the years every single piece gets replaced by a new one, is it the same vessel as the one you started with? I can tell you it certainly isn't if on Monday you have a canoe and on Wednesday you have a motorboat with a single paddle taped onto the side. I think that's what this movie is telling you.

I liked this first half it did something to me that I never expected. I sympathize and related to a 44 year-old man more than I did a 27-year old. I thought there were a couple of funny moments here and there. Not quite laugh-out-loud funny, but humorous in the way that normal life is strange and charming sometimes. I wouldn't call this film a "comedy" for instance, and certainly not when it shifts tone and story completely during the second half.

I suppose I have to give the picture credit that it feels like real life instead of an artificial screenplay that was made to make money. There are elements here that don't go anywhere and others that come up unexpectedly. I found some pretty big surprises in that second half with Josh having to face a pretty big moral crisis. I feel like there's a big missed opportunity here because the movie is about two ideas that aren't related to each other and you don't really get closure on either one. As is, "While We're Young" feels like it's either got too much going on, or not enough. I wish an extra half hour had been added to really wrap up some of the different relationship and themes... or that a bunch of material had been cut so they could have been put in a completely different movie. Which one would I prefer? I'm not really sure.

I enjoyed myself while watching "While We're Young" and I do think that there's an audience for it, but I'm not sure who. Maybe my parents would dig this one because they would be at that stage in life where you realize that you haven't been considered "young" for a while now. I don't want to come off as overly negative on this picture because I'm glad I saw it, but I struggle to find someone that I would strongly recommend it to. To me, this is more of the type of picture that you stumble upon rather than actually seek out. If you see a trailer and the ideas present there (not so much the jokes because this isn't a comedy) I would say catch it at a matinée price or rent it. It's a decent way to pass the time but not overly memorable, even if there are some strong moments throughout. (Theatrical version on the big screen, April 28, 2015)