Movie Review: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

By | October 30, 2017

One of Netflix’s starriest original film outings yet with Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson, and Dustin Hoffman all taking part in Noah Baumbach’s story of an aging sculptor and his grown children, played by Elizabeth Marvel, Sandler, and Stiller (who has a different mother than Sandler’s character, and there’s some resentment over the difference in how the two were treated growing up).

What Works: This is Stiller’s best role in a long time, and you can see his relief in working with Baumbach again (the two have collaborated in “Greenberg” and “While We’re Young”) during expertly emoted and directed scenes like Stiller’s teary breakdown at an unveiling of his father’s work. Still, most of the old pros are slightly upstaged by star-in-the-making Grace Van Patten who shined in Netflix’s original film “Tramps” and charms in most of her scenes here.

What Doesn’t: What exactly is a Noah Baumbach movie? He doesn’t have the arc cleverness of Whit Stillman, the specialied dialogue of Woody Allen, or the singular style of Wes Anderson. What we have instead is a director…kind-of in their indie dramedy mold, but without a real hook of his own. Too many of Baumbach’s films since “The Squid and the Whale” have been near-instantly forgettable, and I’ll admit that although “Meyerowitz” is a pleasant way to spend two hours, there’s not a lot you’ll remember about it the next day.

What I Would Have Done Differently: The film could be shorter, funnier, more emotional, and less gimmicky (like the over-used bit where a character is shouting only to abruptly cut to something quiet), but it’s a fine effort that maybe, hopefully, might one day pave the way for Baumbach to discover what his next great act is…

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