“The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” is the latest film from writer-director Noah Baumbach and stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson as a dysfunctional family living in New York City.
Netflix has had a rough start to their Oscar-hopeful campaigns, seemingly unable to land enough momentum to get the likes of Idris Elba recognition from the Academy (although they have several Best Documentary nods). Here’s hoping they can figure out how to copy Amazon’s success, because “The Meyerowitz Stories” is a funny, touching film with some incredible performances and a sharp script.
Adam Sandler has long been a Hollywood punchline, with him owning some of the most critically-panned films of the past decade (“Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy” among them). However he has occasionally taken breaks from his slapstick Happy Madison schlock to give darkly comedic and successful performances in films like “Drunk-Punch-Love” and “Funny People.”
In “The Meyerowitz Stories,” Sandler plays a divorced father who has to live in the shadow of his ungrateful father and successful brother, all while dealing with sending his daughter away to college. Sandler is still playing a man-child of sorts, a role he is all too familiar with, but he is able to show a sympathetic side, and it makes us not understand why he keeps trying to impress and appease his father when it’s clear the feelings are not reciprocated.
Ben Stiller essentially plays himself, but is given two scenes—one of shouting and one of tears—that let him flex his real acting muscles and it is probably the best performance of his career (for whatever that’s worth to you).
Dustin Hoffman gives a welcome return to form as the boys’ father and his quick, often-unrelated responses are very entertaining. It’s always nice to see Emma Thompson pop up in things, but she feels like an extended cameo playing Hoffman’s fourth wife.
Baumbach’s script is Aaron Sorkin-esque at times, with rapid fire delivery and offbeat retorts from characters. A running joke is Sandler limping and when a character calls him on it he responds “it’s always worse after I’ve been sitting;” I don’t know, I laughed every time.
My biggest complaint with the film is its final act, which gets a little abstract and artsy. It’s just such a random diversion from what the first hour 30 is that it was a bit off-putting and almost feels like it was directed by a different person.
“The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” showcases arguably career-best performances from Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller and features a welcome turn from Dustin Hoffman, offering up some relatable family dramedy in the process. I really enjoyed this movie and implore you to check it out on Netflix, because the more people see and talk about it the better the chances its cast and crew get the recognition they deserve.
Critics Rating: 8/10