If The Squid and the Whale and The Royal Tenenbaums had a baby, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) would be it. The ultimate dysfunctional family with a wily and irrepressible patriarch at the helm may not be an original concept now, but writer-director Baumbach avoids any misstep with a charming script and an even more delightful cast.
Dustin Hoffman and Ben Stiller really bring their A-game to this, relishing in another opportunity to play father and son and bouncing off one another perfectly. But this is truly Adam Sandler’s time to shine. Equal parts sad and enraged, he plays the forgotten, shunned older brother so perfectly that he’ll make your heart break just a little each time you laugh. There are hints of the shouting, screaming Sandler that we all know, but these moments are used to great effect rather than being the beginning and end of a character.
With phrases and lines from Baumbach’s breakthrough The Squid and the Whale peppered throughout, you feel as though you already know the characters before they appear. Despite their craziness and inherent self-obsession, there’s a warmth and fragility to each of them that’s hard not to love. More than being a comedy, the film is just incredibly sweet and a sheer delight to watch. Obviously, it helps that it’s also devastatingly funny, embracing witty one-liners and physical comedy in one fell swoop. You’ll also find yourself afterwards longing to see more shots of Dustin Hoffman running down the street.
A hilarious and poignant portrayal of a broken family, The Meyerowitz Stories is truly sublime. Sandler gives potentially the best performance of his career, and Hoffman and Stiller are clearly having a blast. This is as close to perfect as it gets.
CAST: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Elizabeth Marvel, Grace Van Patten
DIRECTOR: Noah Baumbach
WRITER: Noah Baumbach
SYNOPSIS: An estranged family gathers together in New York for an event celebrating the artistic work of their father.