While We're Young

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
While We're Young Movie Poster Image
Witty, observant, salty comedy about work, love, babies.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Everyone is a work in progress, and if you don't explore what that means, you might not grow. Themes include identity crises and professional uncertainty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Josh and Cornelia are kind to each other and generally mindful of each other's feelings. They're also willing to explore how they fail each other -- and themselves.

Violence

Some yelling, screaming, and verbal confrontations. Talk of a soldier killing people in Afghanistan and being scarred by the experience.

Sex

Some kissing, sometimes extramaritally.

Language

Frequent but not constant strong language, including "s--t," "a--hole," "f--k," and the like.

Consumerism

Apple laptops, iPhones, and iPads.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking at parties. One character swigs heavily from a bottle of bourbon. In an extended sequence, people participate in a ritual involving a strong psychedelic drug.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Noah Baumbach's While We're Young is a witty, quietly moving dramedy about growing up and growing old. It's likely to appeal more to older teens and adults than younger viewers, who aren't likely find its themes -- including identity crises, flirting outside your marriage, and the loss of your professional moorings -- particularly relatable. There's some kissing (including between married people and partners who aren't their spouses), a fair amount of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), arguments/confrontations, some drinking, and an extended scene involving a psychedelic drug.

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What's the story?

Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are Manhattan fortysomething professionals -- he's a documentarian who's been working on his second movie for nearly a decade, she's a producer for her iconic filmmaker father (Charles Grodin). They're comfortably ensconced in their marriage, but that well-worn idyll is disrupted when they meet Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a twentysomething couple from Brooklyn who forces Josh and Cornelia to examine their complacency. Jamie wants to make a film, too, and does so with impressive speed and brashness; Darby makes artisanal ice cream and seems to pursue her interests, wherever they may take her. Josh and Cornelia feel stuck between the younger couple and their same-age friends, who've moved onto child-rearing, a task that they've yet to undertake ... and may never experience, not after so many years of exhausting, draining fertility treatments and miscarriages.

Is it any good?

The quiet genius of WHILE WE'RE YOUNG is how it works on so many different levels. At first, it seems to empathize with befuddled Gen X types who now find themselves on the other end of the generation gap, no longer the upstarts who befuddled those who came before. When did this happen? How did this happen? And do we really have arthritis and (gasp!) need reading glasses? But the film also appears to understand the boldness of youth, of Millennials who are finding the value in the objects and cultural touchstones that Gen X-ers have thrown away in their haste to make a name for themselves -- but who are also still rying to make their way in an increasingly intractable landscape. How do you get ahead? Who do you have to be to do so?

That the film is gifted with a superb cast is the icing on this artisanal cake: From Stiller, who's managed to occupy Josh in such a sympathetic and believable way, to Watts to the incomparable Grodin, who's woefully underused in movies today. (And casting former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz as a new dad in his 40s giving into his fatherhood with grace and humor is brilliant.) While We're Young hits few false notes. The animosity between Josh and his father-in-law is a little overdone, but the movie is a treat ... and a reality check.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what While We're Young is saying about what it means to be an adult. Is growing older the same thing as growing up?

  • What is the film's take on parenthood? On work? Do the characters and their issues feel relatable? Believable?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about the way Darby and Jamie are portrayed here. Is the movie fair to twentysomethings? Is there a generation gap?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat movies

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