The Meyerowitz Stories: A Typical Dysfunctional Jewish Family

Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). Photo credit: Atsushi Nishijima/NETFLIX.

Netflix’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is the dysfunctional Jewish family that This Is Where I Leave You wanted to be.

Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, the film stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, Grace Van Patten, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.  Judd Hirsch, Rebecca Miller, Adam Driver, Matthew Shear, and Candice Bergen co-star.

Baumbach has given us some very strong films before and The Meyerowitz Stories is no exception. It’s his best one yet! It’s an emotionally packed comedy in a story about three generations of a very dysfunctional family, whose patriarch is artist Harold Meyerowitz (Hoffman).

Harold’s grown children, Matthew (Stiller), Danny (Sandler, and Jean (Marvel), have come together in spite of their dad but only after he gets sick and rushed into the hospital.  Harold wasn’t the best parent so to speak.  Matthew and Danny are trying to be good parents to their children but Matthew certainly has it tougher than his half-brother does.  It’s not until Harold gets sick in which the siblings come together and the dysfunction really shines brightly.

As for Stiller?  Despite what I wrote nearly a month ago when he starred in Brad’s Status, his performance here is just as strong, if not better.  There’s a scene late in the film where he’s speaking at a reception honoring Harold and Stiller is top-notch.

While it’s true that The Meyerowitz Stories is more than an Adam Sandler movie but for the first time in who knows how many years, we get a Sandler performance that’s actually good for once.  He’s not phoning it in like you’d expect in maybe a Grown Ups or something else along those lines.  This isn’t an easy feat but Baumbach, who previously directed Stiller in Greenberg and While We’re Young, is able to get what very well may be the finest performances out of Sandler since the actor starred in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2002 romantic dramedy, Punch-Drunk Love.  It might just be even better!

It’s surprising, too, that this is the first time that both Stiller and Sandler play siblings.  It’s a casting decision that I haven’t even thought of before and I’ve made a stab at writing some very Jewish comedies (unproduced) and never once thought of having the two actors play brothers  To be fair though, I wrote a role with Will Ferrell in mind as a sibling of a character that Stiller would have been ideal for…but my unproduced screenplay isn’t why you’re hear nor should it be.

As Danny’s daughter, Eliza, Grace Van Patten impresses once more in a film about a dysfunctional family.  She was the best thing about The Wilde Wedding and it doesn’t even matter that her character is an aspiring filmmaker yet again in The Meyerowitz Stories.  Though her character’s films are risque to say the least, Van Patten is the type of young actress that brings something to her work when she’s on screen.  Te rising star holds her own against Sandler as well, which bodes well for her future.

In addition to streaming exclusively on Netflix, the film will opens Friday, October 13 at Landmark Theatres Century Centre Cinema.

 

 

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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