Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. The wonder of the film is how good it makes us feel. Greenberg scintillates with intelligence, razor's-edge humor and austere empathy for its struggling lovers.
  2. 91
    Bittersweet and beautifully realized, harsh but humane, Greenberg is a self-consciously small film that nevertheless leaves an indelible mark.
  3. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    90
    Greenberg is on every level the work of a more mature filmmaker, and quite possibly a happier man.
  4. 90
    It is the funniest and saddest movie Mr. Baumbach has made so far, and also the riskiest.
  5. 88
    I have a weakness for actresses like Greta Gerwig. She looks reasonable and approachable.
  6. Greenberg, with Stiller's sad and self-mocking portrait at its core, is well worth getting to know.
  7. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    Powerfully honest, insightful and poignant.
  8. Baumbach's movies are addictive dispatches from a genteel jungle of white privilege, where highly educated people behave badly. I can't take my eyes off the exotic wildlife.
  9. Reviewed by: Andrew Male
    80
    Like a lot of human relationships Greenberg is complicated, infuriating, good-hearted, funny, often painful, and well worth the effort. A sad little movie but also a great one, lit by two astonishing central performances.
  10. When Stiller indulges in moments of unfulfilled rage, this has real desperation.
  11. 80
    Greenberg is a movie of throwaway one-liners and evocatively nondescript locations. The style is observational, the drama is understated, and, when the time comes, it knocks you out with the subtlest of badda-booms.
  12. 80
    This is tricky, ambiguous material, seemingly better fitted to a short literary novel than to a movie, and it could have gone wrong in a hundred ways, yet Baumbach handles it with great assurance.
  13. Going dramatic, Stiller commits to the role completely; there's something rather admirable in his refusal to pander or soft-pedal the self-serious, frankly unlikable Greenberg.
  14. 75
    See this darkly comic character study unburdened by preconceptions.
  15. 75
    Greenberg is a comedy (a scene in which Roger attends a boisterous college party and pitches a fit over the music is marvelously funny), but it's a sad, rueful comedy about disappointment.
  16. Jennifer Jason Leigh (Baumbach's wife) appears in two scenes, as an ex-girlfriend of Greenberg, and she's quietly brilliant, as always.
  17. 75
    A delicate, if slightly smoggy, feeling of regret hangs over Greenberg, a quietly funny portrait of grown-ups growing up.
  18. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    Noah Baumbach makes nature documentaries disguised as indie comedy-dramas.
  19. What saves it, however, is Gerwig. The love story ain’t credible, but her performance is, perfectly capturing a young woman who doesn’t lack confidence so much as a sense of self.
  20. 75
    Baumbach overreaches, making this character a selfish, off-putting cultural (LA) and generational scold. But Stiller, in his most “real” performance in ages, finds the function in this catalog of dysfunctions, the humanity in this humanity-hating crank.
  21. Like "The Squid and the Whale," this character study pushes the definition of comedy to the breaking point, and unlike the far less successful "Margot at the Wedding," it leaves us faintly smiling after the workout.
  22. Mr. Baumbach has a knack for capturing real-life dialogue--particularly and hilariously how people tend not to listen to the person on the other side of the conversation.
  23. 75
    Why would you watch a film about a creep like Greenberg? Well, aside from the fact that it’s well-done and intense and occasionally funny (in a dark, dark way, mind you), there’s the sneaking suspicion that there’s a little of this fellow in all of us, and self-knowledge of that sort is a gift that, often, only art can give.
  24. Reviewed by: Andy Klein
    75
    Even if you sympathize with his troubles, it’s hard to actually like the guy. At best, he’s uncomfortable to be around; at worst, he’s irritating and even reprehensible.
  25. While winning no points for originality, Baumbach and his co-conspirator in the script, Jennifer Jason Leigh -- have created an all-too-convincing portrait of a 40-year-old man in emotional freefall.
  26. The movie may wear its shagginess on its sleeve, but Stiller knows exactly what he’s doing.
  27. There's no hard-and-fast rule that says you have to like the main character in a movie. It's more a custom, really - a custom that Ben Stiller stretches nearly to the breaking point in Greenberg.
  28. 70
    An unsettling but ultimately joyous little picture, a movie that's as self-conscious as anything Baumbach has ever made, and yet far more open: It reaches out to the world instead of insisting on hugging its own pain, tight.
  29. Greenberg would be a heckuva movie if we could just get Greenberg out of there.
  30. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    70
    That Greenberg has merits is undeniable. Gerwig, a funny mix of Kate Winslet and the joyfully ditzy young Diane Keaton, should end up a star. Stiller dials back his own schtick and deserves to be taken seriously.
  31. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    As a study of stasis and of people conscious of not living the lives they had imagined for themselves, the picture offers a bracing undertow of seriousness beneath the deceptively casual, dramatically offhand surface.
  32. 67
    Nothing much happens in Greenberg, yet Stiller and co-star Greta Gerwig make inconsequence tolerable with solid performances.
  33. 63
    To really pull off Greenberg would require a lead performance from a master actor. The actor it stars is . . . Ben Stiller.
  34. There's humor there, but this is a "smart" comedy, which is to say it's not intended to make you guffaw.
  35. Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
    60
    Although Ben Stiller’s brand of nervy comic ticks can prove irritating on occasions, here he is kept in check so that the humor and the pathos shine through.
  36. Any comic relief it affords comes with such an undertow of repressed emotions and displaced anger that it all starts to feel more depressing than dramatic.
  37. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    50
    Putting them together was a bold casting move, but as good as they both are in their roles--she (Gerwig) in the flustered, galumphing mode of early Teri Garr, he (Stiller) in the clenched and mumbling one of late Woody Allen--they never quite seem to be sharing the same movie.
  38. 50
    Stiller plays a monster, and when Gerwig goes for him, declaring that she sees his tender side, the development seems like a fond indulgence on the part of writer-director Noah Baumbach.
User Score
5.2

Mixed or average reviews- based on 131 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 48
  2. Negative: 23 out of 48
  1. Aug 19, 2010
    3
    This was a potentially good movie ruined by the classic combination of a Big Star wanting to be in a small indie film. It. Having to watch Ben Stiller in every scene was so painful, especially when Greta Gerwig and Rhys Ivans were so good. There was no nuance or depth or humanity to his character. It reminded me of Punch Drunk Love, in which Adam Sandler just looks stone faced the whole movie, which seemed to be his way of 'Acting'. A similar self-involved character, the dad in Squid and the Whale was so much better with Jeff Daniels, a much much better actor.

    I am sure that this is why Alexander Payne retains control over casting. Imagine a good script, good director, and a Big Star know for a specific type of comedy is forced on you. It ruins the movie.
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 3, 2011
    10
    Greenberg is a brutally honest and raw look at what is is like to wake up and be 40 and realize your life is not what you expected and you aren't who you thought you would be. Ben Stiller is excellent and shows he can be more than a one trick pony. This is first time I have actually forgotten Ben was Ben in a role. He is troubled frustrated, arrogant and abrasive, acting out and inappropriate. You have to wonder why Florence would find him attractive and keep coming back for more. Brilliantly written and shot, it showcases life in LA as only one who actually lives here knows it. Jennifer Jason Leigh produced the film and as in past collaborations with Noah Baumbach show they are auteurs of creating emotional train wrecks that make us uncomfortable but can't stop watching Full Review »
  3. Jan 27, 2011
    7
    It doesn't surprise me that, after-the-fact, I found out that this movie was directed by Noah Baumbach. The direction is unique, painfully slow at times (intentionally) and physically makes me squirm in my chair while watching because the uncomfortable things happening to the characters in this movie are entirely too real. Mid-life crisis is an understatement here. A man so arrogant that he believes he's better and deserving of so much more than he's received in life, which has turned to pure bitterness. At the same time, that bitterness is tempered with sporatic episodes of maturity and responsibility. That dichotomy results in very schizophrenic behavior toward the friends and family he loves. At times he's defensive of the mistakes he's made that brought him to the misery he is currently experiencing, while he also calms down and realizes that he shouldn't blame and that he, in fact, is causing his own misery. It's painful to watch and so uncomfortable to the viewer, especially me who experiences bouts of the same thing every now and then (though to a lesser extent). One almost has to be older to appreciate what this movie is saying, but even those open to its content have to also get past the brutal way Noah brings it to the screen. The Squid and the Whale was depressing enough. It makes me wonder how depressed Noah is to consistently present this much raw pain. However, what makes the movie is its optimistic, and sweet, ending. Full Review »