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Greenberg - Blu-ray Review

Greenberg Blu-ray Review


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According to Ben Stiller, in the part of the title role, one need only “see past the kitsch” to catch the hidden meaning of most things.  That statement holds true in Noah Baumbach’s gnawingly vague Greenberg.  Painfully annoying at times, Greenberg, both as a character and movie, simply does nothing but echo the mundane world it, curiously enough, works to deflate.  Baumbach has a knack for writing movies about adults who live in their youthful past because of their inability to cope with the real world and his latest work, in spite of its kitschy attraction to its own emotional detachment, is no different.

Greenberg (Stiller) is an asshole.  He’s overly serious, considers himself the funniest and smartest person he knows, and is visiting L.A., house-sitting for his brother, post-mental breakdown.  His only friend and former bandmate, Ivan (Rhys Ifans), merely tolerates his ramblings against the use of car horns in New York City and his brother’s personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig), finds herself intertwined in a relationship with Greenberg’s medicated self.  As the narrative develops, Greenberg is seen composing letters railing against Starbucks and United Airlines, but – other than snorting cocaine at a party with twenty-year-olds – simply does nothing.  He believes himself to be transforming, but is criminally misguided.  Haunted by his past mistakes, Greenberg simply plows forward with little emotion registered until he is confronted by Ivan.

While it is nice to see Stiller without the comic mask, one can’t quite get past the unlikable qualities of this guy.  He’s full of himself and his beliefs and, as a result, can’t quite connect in any meaningful way with anyone – not even himself.  Basically, his adult life mirrors the air blown qualities of inflatable toy – not unlike the one he sees daily in the used car lot.  When the narcissistic Greenberg is left in charge of a sick German Shepherd, his attentions at confusing the emotions of Florence and his intentions at doing nothing are amusingly distracted until the journey of the dog and its health becomes the film’s only emotional center.  Yet, when he passes the dog on to someone else, all hope for Greenberg’s “recovery” is lost.

This films aches to be beautifully real.  It isn’t.  While it does earn points for its L.A. locations – prime pieces of the city’s landscape seldom caught on the silver screen – the movie falls to the pavement in a fit of helpless shrugging.  The film is as Greenberg and his cohorts wish it to be: nothing.  While it does feature a fine performance from the wide-eyed Gerwig, who will soon achieve breakout status for her abilities, Greenberg nearly suffocates its audience in a paisley-decorated plastic bag.

Complete with an eclectic soundtrack by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Baumbach’s Greenberg attempts to tug at the strings of reason and restlessness but merely shams its audience into thinking there’s something more behind there story.  There isn’t.  When Greenberg picks up his pencil and ruler (he’s a carpenter after all) at the film’s closing, that point is made perfectly clear.

Component Grades
2 stars
2 stars
DVD Experience
2 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 13, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live; Social network features; Mobile features

Filmed in warm and muted tones, the movie enjoys a top-notch presentation in Blu-ray.   As usual, the images are crisp and the sound is of the highest quality. Bonus features lack a substantial amount of information and are meandering at best.  For those puzzled by the film’s character, an audio commentary would have been nice.



  • A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Greenberg (3:24): this featurette concerns itself with the germinating seed of the picture and Stiller’s performance
  • Greenberg Loves Los Angeles (2:08): this featurette discusses the scenic background of Los Angeles and what it adds to the film
  • Noah Baumbach Takes a Novel Approach (1:32): Baumbach talks authors and compares Greenberg to other famous literary works


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