Noah Baumbach‘s Greenberg didn’t exactly burn up the box-office last winter. Those who went looking for a hah-hah Ben Stiller comedy encountered a sly, subtle and somber flick about a morose, self-absorbed 40 year-old guy looking at the downslope of a life. It was one of the finest character-driven, psychologically acute, no-laugh-funny flicks in a long while, but the “just entertain us” crowd didn’t show. Greenberg racked up $4,234,170 in ticket sales, and then slinked off to the showers.
(l.) Greenberg Bluray jacket; (r.) theatrical release poster.
On 7.23 Greenberg returns on DVD/Bluray, and I guess you can’t blame the Universal Home Video marketers for throwing out the theatrical one-sheet and trying to persuade potential customers that Greenberg is a nice, slightly nutty, slap-happy relationship comedy. Stiller and Greta Gerwig are pictured as some kind of shaggy-cerebral fun couple, and…well, you just have to admire the chutzpah. What they’re doing here is almost on the level of that mock Shining trailer from three or four years ago.
I think Greenberg is a “fun” movie, sort of. You just have to be hip enough (jaded enough? perverse enough?) to get it. I wound up seeing Greenberg four times, and felt amused, oddly tickled, and quietly fascinated each time. I therefore shared the reactions of A.O. Scott (“I love this movie!) and Joe “JoMo” Morgenstern (“extremely entertaining”). The people who loved the MTV Movie Awards are going to hate it, of course, but let’s hope Greenberg catches on with at least a portion of the Netflix crowd and stays alive in critics’ heads so they’ll remember to put it on their ten-best lists next December.