Ben Stiller Likes Whiskey & Ice Cream, But He'd Probably Like Beer & Pizza Too"/>
The Dinner: Sausage Italiano pizza and three pints of Scarlet Fire at Big Time Brewery, 4133 University Way NE, 545-4509 UNIVERSITY DISTRICT
Stiller's Roger Greenberg might be lonely and neurotic, but give him a little blow, and man, does he loosen up.
The Movie: Greenberg at the Guild 45th in Wallingford.
The Screenplate: Shortly after arriving at his rich brother's posh home in Los Angeles, where he is tasked with house sitting, dog sitting, and building a dog house, a struggling Brooklyn carpenter named Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) makes out a grocery list for his sibling's left-behind personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig, who singlehandedly boasts the potential to end--thankfully--Chloe Sevigny's movie career). On it are but two items: whiskey and ice cream sandwiches, perhaps scribbled as homage to his days in an up-and-coming rock band that stupidly turned down a major-label record deal before splitting into obsolescence.Greenberg is lonely, but he doesn't want to be. He comes to his native Los Angeles fresh out of a mental institution intent on socializing, yet it's not something that comes naturally to him. His old friends aren't really friends anymore; they basically just tolerate him, assuming that he'll be heading back east after a few weeks in the sun (his brother's on an extended family vacation in Vietnam). He wants to pick up where he left off with people, oblivious to what they view as a virtually unnavigable gulf between the young, confident man they knew then and the damaged Peter Pan they see before them now.
The exception is Florence, a similarly rudderless, albeit significantly younger, individual who's oddly fascinated--infatuated, even--with Greenberg, even after embarks on one of the most ill-fated cunnilingus expeditions ever captured on camera. Do two present wrongs increase their chances of making a future right by joining forces? While a double negative technically equals a positive, we're left guessing, which is actually an appropriate place for this gem of a film (it's Stiller's meatiest turn since Permanent Midnight) to leave us.
But would Greenberg like pizza and beer at a rootsy brewpub known to be frequented by the grad students and professors of a major state college? Probably--and if that brewpub's playing sad-sack Elliott Smith on its stereo, as Big Time Bewery was one recent Saturday, then absolutely.
College bars that shun Jell-O shots and undergrad drink specials tend to be catnip for wayward, overeducated souls hungry for chance interaction. And if the beer's as good as Big Time's Scarlet Fire IPA, and the pizza as mouth-watering as its Sausage Italiano (Italian Sausage, red onions, and roasted red peppers), what begins as small talk might result in something more durable.