This is not what I would call a movie. This is a "fly-on-the-wall" experience of seeing Ben Stiller show his acting chops as a slightly mentally ill person. Although his neuroses or psychoses or God-knows-what-kind-of-problem-it- was seemed to be very real, ultimately, I didn't care.
He was a pathetic, sad f'd-up person who needed psychiatric help and drugs to stabilize him. Instead, this is what happens:
His rich brother, wife and family take off for a vacation in Vietnam. Why Vietnam is never explained. Greta Gerwig is their put-upon assistant. For reasons that are unclear, rich brother is allowing nutcase brother to stay at his house in L.A. while he's in Vietnam. This doesn't make any sense at all. He and wife know that Ben has had a "breakdown" -- did they for one second give any thought to what his needs might be? In other words, did they think it would be okay to let him roam around their huge house by himself? Did they somehow think that Greta would tend to all his needs? This was a device that allowed Ben and Greta to meet, but it did not seem organic or believable.
Then, because Greta is at some vulnerable point in her life, she easily slips into some kind of sex/love relationship with Ben, who is CLEARLY a nutcase. It does not make any sense why this woman would continue to subject herself to experiences in which Ben is cruel, insulting, degrading and otherwise deranged. Were we also supposed to feel sorry for her?
Greta has a very real, honest quality about her; that cannot be denied. She seems like a real human being and she seemed authentic. But she obviously is aware that Ben is nuts and yet... she's willing to risk possible danger to be involved with him. I just didn't buy it. Not after only knowing him a week.
The movie ambles about, from one improvised scene to the next. There are occasional moments that are hysterically funny, and they are organic, and that's the best thing that can be said.
But as to why these people thought this was a movie worth making is beyond me. It is not "enjoyable." You will not come away feeling "good." You will have a sad, sour taste in your mouth and be shaking your head at the end. And the "ending" -- what a joke! What a let-down! What a half-assed way to get out of this mess.
Ben Stiller either IS this person, or is very good at portraying a mentally ill person who desperately needs to be medicated. Either way... why is this something you'd want to watch?
IF he had learned something, IF he had grown and accepted his stupid, cruel actions (which he clearly does not in his pathetic attempt to apologize to Greta), and if he showed some signs that he was making the effort to improve, I might have given this movie a thumbs up. Since he stays essentially the same, as does Greta, I cannot.
Yes, there are great moments from the supporting cast, and yes, most people have "been there" -- trying to go back into their past and fix things. In THIS way, the movie does have a few minutes of value, reminding us very clearly that we cannot go home again. But other than that, this was a very depressing, upsetting and unsettling film that I cannot recommend to anyone.