An estranged family gathers together in New York for an event celebrating the artistic work of their father.
Noah Baumbach has made a career out of telling slice of life stories set in New York, whether it’s the tale of a young woman struggling to grow up (‘Frances Ha’), 40 somethings trying to remain young (‘While We’re Young’) or the effects of divorce on a family (‘The Squid and the Whale’). His latest, a Netflix exclusive called ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’, is about three siblings growing up in the shadow of their curmudgeonly father (an excellent Dustin Hoffman) and the film takes the approach of a series of vignettes focusing on each sibling as they try to make their way through life. Like most of Baumbach’s films, his characters are artists of one sort or another, and it’s clear once again that he feels comfortable writing within this world.
Adam Sandler has been getting plaudits for his role as the eldest brother Danny Meyerowitz and rightly so, as he’s the standout in a very strong cast. I think part of it is that people forget Adam Sandler can be a really good actor, and it’s only every few years or so he comes along and reminds everyone of this with a strong performance in a more serious role (think ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ for example). Ben Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel are both good as well, but they’ve got less to work with than Sandler who covers a lot of emotional beats as he comes to terms with his own life as his daughter goes off to college. Hoffman gets most of the laughs as a grumpy old man with a bit of sweetness under his bitter exterior, and his role, and the film as a whole, will likely draw comparisons with Gene Hackman and Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, with its similar focus on a dysfunctional family. ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ isn’t quite as zany or offbeat as the work of Wes Anderson and Baumbach’s tale is more grounded (but ultimately still very funny).
Noah Baumbach is a master of depicting awkward family dynamics and ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ is another strong entry to his back catalogue. My only regret is that it was a Netflix release and it wasn’t available to see at the cinema, but perhaps that view is going to become increasingly old fashioned over time.
Directed By: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson, Grace Van Patten, Candice Bergen, Rebecca Miller, Judd Hirsch and Adam Driver