Malaise of various kinds has manifested itself in the work of American director Noah Baumbach. In 2012, the much adored Frances Ha saw the director chronicle the ailing dance career and resultant ennui of an arrested development twenty-something whilst gently ribbing consciously cool New Yorkers. His new picture, While We’re Young (2014), explores both professional stagnation and sends up trendy hipster culture through a more traditional mid-life crisis narrative. Providing a further through line between the films is Adam Driver who stars alongside Amanda Seyfried, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in a film that talks about getting old and artistic integrity while keeping the laughs plentiful.
Stiller is the best he’s been for some time as filmmaker Josh. A promising start to his career has given way to the mire of a turgid six-hour opus that he describes differently each time he speaks about it (“it’s about America”, he defaults). He and wife Cornelia (Watts) are childless and outwardly happy, after all, it’s the freedom to do anything that matters, not what you do with it. As friends keep trying to pressurise them into the cult of baby, they suddenly find a revitalising fix of spontaneity and joie de vivre through Jamie (Driver) and Darby (Seyfried). Soon, Josh and Cornelia are attending hip-hop dance classes and Ayahuasca ceremonies. Baumbach highlights the generational differences – “it’s like their apartment, young is full of stuff we threw out” – as the older pair become more enamoured with their new friends.
Darby makes homemade artisan ice cream in flavours such as avocado, while Jamie wows Josh with his vinyl and VHS collections. Their boho lifestyle provokes something in Josh and Cornelia but it’s when Jamie seeks advice from Cornelia’s famous documentarian father, Leslie (Charles Grodin), on his own film that cracks begin to show in the previously blemish free generosity of spirit. Without dropping the comedy ball for a minute, While We’re Young changes tack and begins to adroitly explore separate age groups’ diverging attitudes towards not only life but also authenticity and ownership, particularly in this age of the internet and social media. Driver and Stiller perfectly encapsulate those two outlooks, and events turn sour as Josh sets out to sabotage and discredit the project of his friend and would-be-protégé.
Some two dozen celebrities — including Melanie Griffith, Amanda Seyfried, Peter Dinklage and Pablo Schreiber — threw themselves onstage Monday with little rehearsal and little sleep — and survived.
They appeared in the 14th annual benefit “The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway,” which asked the actors and several writers and directors to come up with six original short plays over the course of a day. Proceeds help the Urban Arts Partnership.
One play was set in a furniture store. Another was at a casting agency looking to hire an actor for a beer commercial. A third was in a hotel lobby with two sisters — one communicating only through a kazoo — who waited to meet a wizard.
There were jokes about Ebola and Kim Kardashian. At one point, Griffith just lost it and giggled onstage. At another point “Saturday Night Live” star Jay Pharoah came out in ripped up pants that did nothing to cover his rump. A prop chainsaw was used several times.
The other stars who participated included Justin Bartha, Leslie Bibb, Katrina Bowden, Mark Consuelos, Laverne Cox, Rachel Dratch, Michael Ealy, Taran Killam, Justin Long, Stephen Merchant, Diane Neal, Rosie Perez, Leven Rambin, Sam Rockwell, Sebastian Stan, Cecily Strong and Tracie Thoms.
“There were a few people with lines written on their arms,” said Neal, who has starred in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and is a veteran at the 24-hour plays. “But then they got really sweaty so it all went horribly awry.”
The directors included America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”), Ari Edelson (“One Night Stand”), Kathy Najimy (“Veronica’s Closet”), acting coach Leigh Kilton Smith and director and educator Peter Ellenstein.
Writers included Christina Anderson (“Good Goods”), Bekah Brunstetter (“Oohrah!”), comedian David Cross, David Lindsay Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”), Jiehae Park (“Hannah and the Dread Gazebo”) and Jonathan Marc Sherman (“Things We Want”). Sarwat Siddiqui, the winner of a young writers’ project from Fordham University, joined the playwrights.
In Cross’ play, titled “Darkness Falls on St. Petersburg,” for no apparent reason, the playwright mocked Long and Seyfried, and pretty much every character, male and female, was obsessed with David Cross. In Sherman’s play, Seyfried sang both versions of the song “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and Mariah Carey as if she was in the opera.
If you happened to be anywhere near the Internet on Oct. 3, you probably noticed an outpouring of nostalgia for 2004’s Mean Girls. The reason? A throwaway line uttered by Lindsay Lohan’s Cady: “It’s October 3rd.”
That may seem a pretty slim thread to hang an entire day on, but it’s indicative of the fervent fan base for this new-classic teen comedy. Written by Tina Fey and directed by Mark Waters (Vampire Academy), Mean Girls stars Lohan as a high school student at a new school who infiltrates the Plastics, a group of nasty popular girls led by queen bee Regina (Rachel McAdams) and her underlings: insecure Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and dumb-as-a-stump Karen (Amanda Seyfried). The film became a surprise sleeper hit, earning $129 million worldwide and gaining an even bigger following on DVD. In the decade since, Mean Girls has joined Clueless and Sixteen Candles in the teen-comedy canon.
For its 10th anniversary, EW invited the film’s female leads to our own little pep rally, where they talked about their memories, behind-the-scenes magic, and what they think their characters would be doing now.
Photoshoots: 2014: Session 8