The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)
Critic Consensus: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) observes the family dynamic through writer-director Noah Baumbach's bittersweet lens and the impressive efforts of a remarkable cast.
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Critic Reviews for The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Baumbach's ripest and wisest film to date, alert to the fact that so little in life, especially a screwy or a super-ambitious life, is open to resolution.
[Meyerowitz] is alternately wide-ranging and self-indulgent.
If you enjoy Baumbach's work, you know what you're getting into-but even by his impressive yardstick, The Meyerowitz Stories is an achievement.
Baumbach sketches out the intra-family conflicts with aptitude, making sure there's enough lightness to avoid a spiral into the kind of grim and humorless affair the French are fond of, but there's an element of familiarity to the overall narrative arc.
We enjoy the Meyerowitz clan, even as we praise the heavens we're not like them and we don't live next door to any of 'em.
It might call to mind Woody Allen or J.D. Salinger along the way, but in the end, this is pure Baumbach, from its compassionate analysis of broken families to its empathetic insistence that even the most broken can still find redemption.
Audience Reviews for The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
A mix of family drama and comedy with a very subtle humor, not unlike Anderson's Royal Tennenbaums. So people should not expect noisy slapstick from Sandler or Stiller here. Instead, they are giving two or their strongest performances to date, with a very fine mix of seriousness and humor. The rest of the cast shines too. Some will certainly find this too quirky, talkative or anticlimatic, but if you are into this kind of film you're in for a real treat. Only the very last scene leaves you a little lost.
I'm honestly surprised with the impressive job that Adam Sandler does here, playing a character who earns our sympathy even if the film itself is basically the same shtick that Baumbach comes up with over and over again, not really funny or even close to dramatic as it wants to be.
JEAN AND HER BROTHERS - My Review of THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES - NEW AND SELECTED (4 Stars) I love Noah Baumbach's work. He's like Woody Allen before things got creepy. Yes, he has pretty much carried the torch for a whites only, middle class New York, but he has demonstrated such a good ear for how people really talk, and a true artistry has slowly crept into his films. His latest film, THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED), which opened in select theaters October 13th and is also currently streaming on Netflix, may seem on the surface like the successor to HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, but displays its own unique rhythms and it's own voice. It also has a group of actors doing some of their finest work. The film opens on Danny Meyerowitz (Adam Sandler) trying to find a parking space in Manhattan. Next to him is his daughter Eliza (a lovely Grace Van Patten of the famous EIGHT IS ENOUGH/NATURAL BALANCE DOG FOOD dynasty), who shows a deep love for her father despite his agitated state. Their bond feels real, the kind that allows for losing your shit and knowing the other person has your back. With Eliza off to college, Danny, always a little unlucky when it comes to financial success, plans on moving in with his aging artist Harold (Dustin Hoffman) and hard-drinking, hippie step-mother Maureen (Emma Thompson). Trouble is, Harold and Maureen, are considering selling their apartment and moving to their country house. I know, I know. Champagne problems. But Baumbach has a way of making you care, mostly because of Sandler being so attuned to his character's desperation. It's not all rosy anyhow. Harold isn't getting any younger and can't help but compare his lackluster career to that of his old and wildly successful rival (Judd Hirsch, hilarious and spot-on as an artist of a certain age who tries to pull off a knit cap and hoodie). Complicating matters is Danny's brother Matthew (Ben Stiller), who has found success as a financial manager and escaped his clan by moving to LA. Despite his distance, he remains Harold's favorite. They also have a sister Jean, HOUSE OF CARDS' Elizabeth Marvel, who completely disappears into her role of the child who can't stand out in a family of such outgoing personalities. The Meyerowitz's gather periodically as an art show and an illness form the loose storyline, but the crux of the movie is the fissures in the relationships. Told in loose chapters, switching points of view, the film builds and coalesces into a complete and touching tale of the bonds that see us through the toughest of times. As such, each leading actor gets their chance to shine, with Sandler doing the best work of his career. Obviously it's been a long time since he's been broke, but he mines the depths of his character so beautifully, you're convinced he's held on to that feeling all this time. From his aching gait to his quick anger, quiet resentments, and deep affection, his Danny has me convinced he should just stop making his big, broad comedies and from here on out show us the great actor he's been all along in such films as PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, FUNNY PEOPLE, THE WEDDING SINGER, and now this film. Ben Stiller, coming off of his great performance in BRAD'S STATUS, does great work here as well, especially during a gut-punching speech late in the film. An early scene in which he futilely resists getting sucked into his father's spiral of social slights gets such careful attention and precision from Stiller, Baumbach and Hoffman. In the end, you're convinced there's no escaping that we all become our parents. Now about those parents. Dustin Hoffman! Welcome back! It's been a while since he's been given the opportunity to really chew on a role, and he does not miss the chance. His Harold, who clearly never listens to anybody except his own delusional inner voice, is one of the true standout roles of 2017. Hoffman reminded me of Laurie Simmons, Lena Dunham's mother, in TINY FURNITURE, with his portrait of self-absorbed narcissism. Baumbach, while still creating his touching moments, doesn't go all soft and gooey with Hoffman. His Harold remains headstrong and not particularly likable throughout, and as moviegoers, we're all the better for it. Unfortunately, I thought Emma Thompson was wildly miscast. With her accent going in and out and her wig always looking like a wig, she played surface neurosis and never seemed to get a grasp of what she's doing. It's as if she always wanted to be in a Woody Allen movie and do some Mia Farrow schtick, but didn't quite know how to deliver it. She's not terrible, but to me, the performance fell flat. Another minor misstep is what short shrift Elizabeth Marvel gets in the film. Yes, she's written as the forgotten one, and she even gets her own chapter, but, because she's just so damn good and can go toe-to-toe with her fellow actors, I would have loved a little more. Same goes for Candice Bergen in a too-short but effective cameo. Special mention must go to Jennifer Lame's editing. She cuts out of some scenes mid-sentence, perfectly complimenting the unstable drama onscreen, and in one jaw-dropping moment, uses multiple jump cuts and a quiet hush as Sandler looks dead into the camera. Her style keeps the film from feeling like a shaggy Woody Allen knockoff and goes a long way towards raising the artistic stakes. All told, I really liked this film a lot, despite its lack of diversity. Baumbach clearly knows the world he writes about and can find empathy even with the more compromised characters he writes. The fact that he wrote an entire scene around a rude person in a restaurant who keeps leaving his empties on an occupied table gave me the sense that he's got a perfect sense of the little crimes people commit on a daily basis. We need Baumbach and he's operating in his own little lane. You don't have to be Jewish to love this film...but as the saying goes...it wouldn't hurt.
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