BlueLight Cinemas 5
I missed $2.00 Tuesday, but $5.00 isn't too shabby for an evening show. This time I was in Auditorium 1, which looks to be the largest of their auditoriums. There's a bit of trouble with the audio in this theater; we could hear the projector running, and there was static in the speakers.
Ben Stiller is Roger Greenberg, a socially dysfunctional layabout visiting his hometown, Los Angeles, so he can house-sit for his brother's family while they are away on vacation. He meets Florence (Greta Gerwig), personal assistant to his brother's family (what sort of family has a personal assistant?), and kinda sorta maybe is attracted to her.
Greenberg is a jerk, a Napoleon Dynamite but twenty years older and more bitter. He's insensitive to his only friend, Rhys Ifans; makes an uncomfortable pass at a woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) he almost dated back in high school, as if it were the defining moment of his life, and when he's sitting with an old acquaintance, with whom he used to have a band, that acquaintance bluntly tells Greenberg that it was selfish of him to break up the band, just because he didn't like the kind of fame they were getting. When he stands in long lines at Starbucks, he imagines the line is there specifically to infuriate him. He refuses to drive a car (in Los Angeles!), but resents relying on his friends for transportation. His days are spent writing long, disdainful letters to corporations who have slighted him (like when the airline didn't provide enough legroom). Not a fun guy to be around.
Florence is more well-rounded than your typical muse-for-a-dysfunctional-male. She falls too easily into bed with men who pay her any attention, and she feels crummy about it afterward. She has a few good friends, likes to sing, but is lonely. Not just lonely like she needs to spend more time with the dog lonely, or needs a boyfriend lonely. She seems lonely when around other people, and even when having sex, like all good things are fleeting and she's already focusing on the loss of them.
Forence and Greenberg are a terrible match; she needs someone who will smother her with affection, and he can't speak a sentence without giving offense. Florence isn't a total sap, and calls Greenberg out on his verbal abuses, saying she doesn't want to see him again. Unfortunately, she's got a bad case of "maybe I can't do better" (she could), and is soon being courted by Greenberg again. She asks him the chilling question, "Do you think you could love me?", which is a good question to ask anyone on a second date, but especially so to Greenberg, who is both emotionally stunted and cruel.
I couldn't tear my eyes away from this train wreck of a relationship. If Greenberg had been hit by a car early on, and the movie was about Florence's singing career, I would probably be a happier person. But it did make me want to throw open the windows and shout, "I'm mad as hell and you deserve better, Florence Marr!"