Review: The Meyerowitz Stories

The Meyerowitz Stories
8 10

PLOT: Three siblings (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller & Elizabeth Marvel) reunite as their sculptor father (Dustin Hoffman) prepares for a long desired career retrospective.

REVIEW: Noah Baumbach’s THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES is a major step-up for Netflix as a distributor. An acquisition, rather than an actual original film, its low-key, serio-comic vibe is an excellent fit for the streamer. More than anything, it will benefit from their relationship with star Adam Sandler, whose fans may be drawn in by his involvement, and should thoroughly enjoy seeing him in a legitimately good film.

Given his filmography, it’s not a stretch to say that this is Sandler’s best movie at least since FUNNY PEOPLE. Like in another off-kilter, legit Sandler effort, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, he plays a variation on his standard man-child character, only far more nuanced. Here, he plays the middle-aged, oldest son of Dustin Hoffman’s middling, semi-famous sculptor. Musically inclined but lacking confidence, we see that he retreated into a comfortable marriage to raise his daughter (Grace Van Patten) as a househusband, but with her at school and newly separated from his wife, he’s been left adrift.

As usual for a Sandler character, he’s prone to explosive bursts of anger, while also pining for an unattainable love interest (Rebecca Miller), but here you never really get the sense that in the end everything will work out for him. It gives the character something of a tragic air, with his bad hip giving him a constant shuffle. Basically, he’s the real-world version of what he usually plays.

Despite all this, THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES is far from a downer, with it being closer to Baumbach’s more commercial oriented work like WHILE WE’RE YOUNG than an artier entry like FRANCES HA or MISTRESS AMERICA. It’s also not just a Sandler vehicle, with him part of a larger ensemble. It’s divided into three sections more-or-less, with the first half hour devoted to Sandler, and the second, to Stiller as the youngest Meyerowitz child, now working as a wealth manager in L.A, who, in a funny, extended set-piece, has to deal with visiting his impossible father. Like Sandler, he doesn’t stray far from his usual, neurotic type, but there’s more of a caustic edge to him here.

Dustin Hoffman, as the oblivious dad, seems to be having the time of his life, lording his minor accomplishments over his children, and taking constant offense to the fact that his contemporaries are more successful (that Judd Hirsch as a rival is friends with Sigourney Weaver, playing herself, is the most galling). He hasn’t had a part this good in awhile, and could well give Netflix an Oscar nomination for supporting actor.

In the second half of the film, the estranged siblings, which include Elizabeth Marvel as their long ignored (even by the movie) sister, come together when dad ends up in the hospital. Rather than lapse into sentimentality, the edgy humor is kept going, and you never really know how it’ll play out. It all adds up to a nice outing for Baumbach, and a major feather in Sandler’s cap, who once again proves he can be a great actor when given the inclination or the opportunity. THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES is simply a must for even former fans who wouldn’t go near his recent work, and a major accomplishment for Netflix, who really seem to have found their footing in the film game.

Source: JoBlo.com



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