The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Out Now On-Demand
Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson and Ben Stiller are estranged family members reunited in New York to celebrate their father's artistic legacy in this Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming) comedy.
Comedy, Festival & Independent
Time Out London
Noah Baumbach, (writer/director of ‘Greenberg’, ‘Frances Ha’, ‘The Squid & the Whale’ and screenwriter of Wes Anderson’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘The Life Aquatic’), delivers a frothy, ensemble acting tour-de-force, in a movie immediately reminiscent of both Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and Woody Allen’s ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’.
Shot mostly in close-up, and without the (beautiful) distraction of Wes Anderson’s colour palette and perfectly balanced design aesthetic, or Woody Allen’s quick-fire, witty dialogue, ‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’ doesn’t need to be seen in cinemas, working just fine on Netflix as a stay-at-home-on-the-sofa experience.
Up close and personal, theatrical and reliant on fabulous performances and dialogue delivered at machine-gun pace, it’s witty, fast-paced and delightful. A family snapshot relayed in a series of connected scenes, in the manner of short stories, that come together to create characters and a narrative more than the sum of its parts.
The real joy here is in watching the actors surrender to their characters, warts ‘n’ all.
Dustin Hoffman is wickedly funny as Harold, the self-obsessed, bitter Meyerowitz patriarch, an artist who feels cheated at having never gained the public and critical praise he craves.
As his battling sons, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller are superb (no, really, they are), as half-brothers from different mothers, vying in vain for their father’s attention, whilst Elizabeth Marvel as their shrewish sister delivers a performance at once sensitive and comedic.
Whilst wryly amusing, ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ is no outright comedy. Instead it’s a tale of family dysfunction that nails the New York artistic liberal middle-class aspirations of its myriad characters.
From Emma Thompson as Harold’s alcoholic wife, to Adam Driver as a pill-popping rock star, Judd Hirsh as Harold’s successful artistic contemporary, Candace Bergan as one of Harold’s three ex-wives, Sigourney Weaver as Hollywood star, um, Sigourney Weaver, and Grace van Patten as Sandler’s art-movie-making film-student daughter, the casting is as dynamite as the performances.
If drama is your thing, and you prefer your characters with three dimensions and your acting full of energy, nuance and subtlety, then ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ really is a delight.
Funny, sad, moving, thoughtful and profound, it’s like watching a superb stage play, with amazing actors, and a director confident enough in his cast, characters and material, to just let them go and shoot the results in a no-nonsense style that captures this crazy family as they navigate their clumsy way through the messy affair we call life.