Review of The Meyerowitz Stories

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Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) premiered this week at the The New York Film Festival.

The Meyerowitz Stories received early buzz at Cannes earlier this year.  The films made  up of  a series of chapters about the Meyerowitz family led by the father Harold (Dustin Hoffman). Harold was a professor and had minor success as a sculptor, but now he’s forced to watch his old friends get big shows at museums. Adam Sandler plays Danny, Harold’s oldest and least successful son.

Danny is a great father to Eliza, played brilliantly by Grace Van Patten. Eliza is headed to film school and Danny is left dealing with his father Harold. Harold has been married four times to the mother of Danny and his sister Jean played by Elizabeth Marvel. They have a half-brother from another mother, Matthew played by Ben Stiller. He’s a very successful financial manager for famous people. Harold is currently married to alcoholic Maureen played by Emma Thompson.

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Most of the film is about Danny and Matthew as Harold begins to need medical attention and his kids have to figure out out their long-repressed issues in their relationships with each other and their father.

The Meyerowitz Stories has all of the ingredients for a tender comedy, but in the end it falls flat. Dustin Hoffman is great as Harold and could qualify for a Best Actor nod in a better film. Sandler attempts to play a serious role through his rivalry with his half-brother. Sandler and Stiller do not have the chemistry needed to make us care about their characters. The third act has them in a silly physical fight that was clearly crowbarred in. Baumbach admitted in his Q&A after the screening that Sandler and Stiller talked him into adding a physical altercation.  The movie is not free from laughs and could be described as mildly entertaining.

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Netflix bought The Meyerowitz Stories, but will have a theatrical run to qualify for awards season. Its worth checking out on Netflix, but doesn’t stand up as a major theatrical film.

The Meyerowitz Stories can be seen on Netflix beginning on October 13th.

My Grade: C

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