Roger Greenberg, an LA rocker turned NY carpenter, is having a crisis. He takes an LOA from the Big Apple, to housesit for his West Coast brother. There, Greenberg meets the brother’s PA, appealing Florence, who handles everything from feeding the dog to checking the sprinklers. Though this is no romantic comedy, there is immediate chemistry between the two and their first ‘date’ is one for the ages. Greenberg is a narcissistic neurotic who has interpersonal communication issues. He is better off walking the dog and penning complaints to airlines about seat recliner buttons, meanwhile offended friends, ex-girlfriends, and the siren Florence are constantly orbiting around him instead of leaving him alone. Generally, everything annoys Greenberg.
Director Noah Baumbach focuses this time on a single dysfunctional individual instead of the whole family. He does it as part of a classic story, the strengths of which are the script and acting. Ben Stiller drops his village idiot shtick in favor of exposing the hero’s entire alienation and eccentricity, netting him what may be the best role since Zoolander. There are plenty of deeper themes ensconced under smart and funny lines. The pastiche of West and East Coast, settling scores with Generation X (which idolizes Ben Stiller), thoughts about intergenerational relationships and responsibility for the future, make Greenberg anything but a dull boy.
Born in 1969 in New York into a family of writers. Though his debut was Kicking and Screaming, a dialogue film about recent graduates, he later came to specialize in comedy-dramas about the lives of intellectuals and artists, such as the partially autobiographical The Squid and the Whale (2005). He is fascinated with family issues, e.g. Margot at the Wedding (2007), where, just as in Highball (1995), the entire story plays out during a single day. He has successfully worked as a screenwriter with Wes Anderson to produce the cult comedy The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and the screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book The Fantastic Mr. Fox. He is married to Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is credited with co-writing and producing Greenberg.
1995 Kicking and Screaming
1995 Impreza za imprezą / Highball
1997 Zazdrośnik / Mr. Jealousy
2005 Walka żywiołów / The Squid and the Whale
2007 Margot jedzie na ślub / Margot at the Wedding