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Movie Review: 'While We're Young'

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The saying holds that youth is wasted on the young. This morning, we have a story of people who realize they are growing just a bit older when they encounter two people not so far down the road. It's a film by the writer-director Noah Baumbach, and it's called "While We're Young." Kenneth Turan has a review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "While We're Young" is not a film about eternal youth, but rather about coming to terms with growing older. It's a sharp and satisfying satire about aging hipsters and their discontents that's everything we've come to expect from the best of Noah Baumbach. "While We're Young" features, as usual, the filmmaker's unblinking emotional honesty, as well as his impeccable ear for a contemporary dialogue. This time, however, he's intentionally set out to make an out-and-out adult comedy, and he succeeded. The film is set in that epicenter of contemporary cool that is the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. It starts with married couple Josh and Cornelia, played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. They're content with their lives or so they think until the 20-somethings Jamie, played by Adam Driver, and Darby, played by Amanda Seyfried, arrive on the scene. How could you not love young people who collect vinyl records, make their own artisanal ice cream and adventurously explore abandoned subway tunnels? Josh and Cornelia are entranced, especially after a doctor's visit has Josh worried about being old and square.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHILE WE'RE YOUNG")

JAMES SAITO: (As Dr. Nagato) The more concerning thing here is your arthritis.

BEN STILLER: (As Josh) Arthritis.

SAITO: (As Dr. Nagato) Yes, you have arthritis in your knee.

STILLER: (As Josh) Is arthritis a catch-all for some kind of injury to the...

SAITO: (As Dr. Nagato) No, arthritis is a degradation of the joints.

STILLER: (As Josh) Yeah, I know what traditional arthritis is but...

SAITO: (As Dr. Nagato ) I'm not sure what you mean by traditional, but this is arthritis.

STILLER: (As Josh) Arthritis arthritis.

SAITO: (As Dr. Nagato) Yes, I usually just say it once.

TURAN: As "While We're Young's" plot grows increasingly complex, it effortlessly deals with questions of values, of the drive for success, of what it means to be an adult. One of the film's lasting pleasures is that, like all top-drawer satirists, Baumbach is an equal opportunity impaler, mocking the pretensions and blind spots of everyone in sight. It's hard to avoid the realization that at different times in our lives we may have been any of these characters, and that's not always a comforting thought.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.