Top 5... - July 24, 2015

While We're Young (and five of the best films about regaining your youth)
by James
James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

While We're Young (and five of the best films about regaining your youth)

Director Noah Baumbach is no stranger to quirky but warm and personable films, having directed indie hits like Frances Ha and co-written Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. His latest film, While We're Young, applies a similar formula to the subject of ageing and, in particular, the generation gap between so-called 'Gen-Xers' and 'Millenials.'

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star as forty-something couple Josh and Cornelia who are struggling in their attempts to have children and find themselves losing touch with their friends as parenthood changes their lifestyles. They befriend Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), a young couple with hipster tendencies who enjoy watching movies on VHS tapes and listen exclusively to vinyl.

Josh and Cornelia find themselves equally inspired and intimidated by the young couple's lust for life and begin to feel as though they have become boring and outdated, but their attempts to recapture the lifestyle of their youth - such as Cornelia taking hip-hop dance classes – only serve to make them feel even more alienated and irrelevant.

Baumbach's film tackles some of the peculiarities of ageing in modern society that are seldom addressed on the big screen, and although the film's depiction of the younger generation as a bunch or retro-obsessed hipsters is bound to grate on anyone under the age of 25, While We're Young gets a lot more right than it gets wrong and benefits from a well chosen cast that also includes the Beastie Boys' Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horowitz in the role of Josh and Cornelia's friend Fletcher, who has some doubts about their new found youthful approach to life.

For anyone who enjoyed Douglas Coupland's novel Generation X, this will feel a bit like the tragically inevitable conclusion of the same narrative, but even if you're unfamiliar with Coupland's book and you enjoyed Baumbach's other films like Greenburg or The Squid & The Whale, this is well worth a look.

You can find the trailer for While We're Young below, underneath we've picked five of our favourite films to tackle the subject of regaining one's youth...


Old School

Back in 2003 before director Todd Philips struck box office gold with The Hangover, he created this comedy starring Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn as three middle-aged men trying to relive the debauchery of their college years. Mitch (Wilson) discovers that his nymphomaniac girlfriend has been cheating on him and moves into the first rented house he finds, which happens to be located on a college campus. His friends Beanie (Vaughn) and Frank (Ferrell) however see this as an opportunity to party hard, but when the college tries to have them evicted they must round up a rag-tag bunch of losers and misfits to form their own fraternity and legitimise their presence on campus.

If you enjoyed Philips' Hangover films this is well worth checking out and Will Ferrell puts in one of his funniest performances in this underrated comedy.

 

The World's End

Unlike the first two films in Edgar Wright's 'Cornetto' trilogy, this time around it is Nick Frost's turn to play the more sensible straight man while Simon Pegg takes on the overgrown man-child role of Gary King, formerly the coolest kid in school, now a 40-year-old man desperate to escape the mundanity of adult life. Gary rounds up his old school friends and persuades the reluctant group to return to their leafy home town of Newton Haven, with the intention of re-attempting a legendary pub crawl.

Gary and his friends soon find though that things in the town have taken a sinister turn and their night of drunken revelry soon turns into nothing less than a fight for humanity's survival. The film also stars Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Rosamund Pike, as well as appearances from Pierce Brosnan and Bill Nighy.

 

American Beauty

The debut feature film from director Sam Mendes stars Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, a middle-aged man who, on the surface, is living an average suburban life with his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) and daughter Jane (Thora Birch). Lester, however, couldn't be more unhappy and is sliding deeper into a mid-life crisis. His wife hates him, his daughter thinks he's a colossal loser and he is becoming infatuated with one of Jayne's teenage friends, Angela (Mena Suvari).

While Jane is becoming romantically involved with their voyeuristic neighbour Ricky (Wes Bentley) and Carolyn is having an affair with a fellow real estate agent, Lester is smoking weed, working out and driving his newly purchased sports car. To say any more about the film's plot would be to reveal spoilers, but if you haven't seen this film already you really should get on with it, it's brilliant.

 

17 Again

Along with films like Freaky Friday and Peggy Sue Got Married, 17 Again is one of many movies that uses the idea of an adult being trapped in the bodies of their younger selves. In this case, Friends star Matthew Perry plays the adult in question, a 37 year-old man who wishes he could relive his life over again and correct his mistakes. He gets his wish when a chance meeting with a mysterious old man ends up with him being transformed into his 17-year-old self (played by Zac Effron) and finds himself back in high school.

 

The World's Fastest Indian

Our last pick is something a little different. Roger Donaldson's 2005 film stars Anthony Hopkins and is based on the true story of New Zealander Burt Munro, a motorcycle salesman who, at the age of 68, set a new world land speed record on his modified Indian Scout motorbike. Less about a man regaining lost youth than a man fulfilling a lifelong ambition in later life, Munro's charming story captured the imagination of the American public and his record still stands today in the 'under 1,000cc' category.

Hopkins puts in a brilliant performance as the ageing racer, who set three records during the 1960s, and while the cast isn't packed with big names, Donaldson's film really doesn't need them. Highly recommended.

 

While We're Young
While We're Young Noah Baumbach

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