The Meyerowitz Stories
Starring Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Grace Van Patten, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson,
Noah Baumbach’s films are often weightless, filled with quirks and eccentricities of characters similar to himself. From The Squid and the Whale to Mistress America, his scripts are as intriguing in the moment as they are forgettable after the fact. Baumbach might be Netflix’s golden charm as he persistently delivers middle ground comedic drama’s that make for a perfect watch when you are half focused to the material while lying in bed. Netflix will never nab films with mainstream cinematic quality, simply because another studio would spend more to capture that film for theatrical distribution. The Meyerowitz Stories is a casually funny, family drama, where comedians Sandler and Stiller get to flex a more series vein in higher brow material than we typically find them.
Danny (Sandler) and his sister Jean (Marvel) are disappointments to their father Harold (Hoffman). Married four times, Harold managed some notoriety for peculiar art work he created earlier in his career. His son Matthew (Stiller) from the third wife was the success story, making millions in Los Angeles as a financial consultant to Hollywood celebrities. When Harold becomes gravely ill, the family reunites around his bedside with their anger, frustrations and resentment towards the father who affected their emotional wellbeing. Danny hobbles around begging Matthew not to sell their family home and dad’s work, but 4th wife Maureen (Thompson) wants to simplify life if her demanding husband kicks the bucket.
Opens in a way to ease unfamiliar viewers into the predictable dysfunction from Baumbach, but over time develops into something more substantial than simply a Sandler vehicle
The movie begins with Sandler cursing, yelling and spitting, this is an attempt to satisfy his usual following. Meyerowitz Stories opens in a way to ease unfamiliar viewers into the predictable dysfunction from Baumbach, but over time develops into something more substantial than simply a Sandler vehicle. As frustrating as Hoffman’s Harold is to watch, the manic behavior he spawns from both Stiller and Sandler is pretty often the most entertaining moments of the film. That doesn’t discount Elizabeth Marvel (Burn After Reading, True Grit) who is the epitome of Baumbach’s female creations. Marvel has some really great “what about me”, “don’t forget I’m here too”, moments along-side more well-known actors.
One of the biggest disappoints here is Thompson who is playing a character that seems far beneath her brilliant wit and charm. She is extricated for much of the film until the final scenes where she still isn’t given much depth as an important person in the family. The script is dialogue heavy, often with characters talking over top of each other. After so much family drama and bickering, the dialogue becomes exhausting. One scene in specific where Stiller/Sandler fight on the hospital lawn or where they destroy a car are all moments that bare little weight on narrative. Tighter editing and a shorter running time would make this a more satisfactory experience.
Occasionally funny, frequently annoying, Baumbach’s latest could use some fine trimming in the editing department.