The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Screen 82 of 18 reviews

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Poster
  • Baumbach builds mighty misunderstandings into overlapping streams of clashing dialogue in which sincere declarations, offhanded jokes, deep confessions, and subtle insults go equally overlooked in the torrents of ego. He also develops an extraordinarily fine grain of details, from the irritations of New York parking (recalled from “The Squid and the Whale”) and the scant merits of a home-cooked seafood dish to embarrassments of attire and the scammy tax manipulations of an art purchaser.

  • With this film, Mr. Baumbach has achieved a near-perfect balance between engagement and discomfort. In “The Squid and the Whale” and “Margot at the Wedding,” something drove him to depict family squabbles with a candor that approached cruelty. The anger in those movies and some of his others was bracing, though a little more so than necessary. As boisterous and edgy as “The Meyerowitz Stories” gets, it is a more mellow film, and to my eyes and ears all the better for it.

  • What’s new is a certain tempered magisterial nature, signaled in the anthology-suggesting title... and a climactic almost-confrontation with a camera rapidly cutting in on an axis towards Sandler in a move straight out of Desplechin. Baumbach may be past the point where his work will convert skeptics, but his technical acumen is increasingly refined with each film, and the cumulative emotional impact of a nearly pin-drop-quiet coda is in inverse proportion to its volume.

  • The bracing if oppressively acrid wit of mid-career works like Greenberg has merged with the emotional generosity of more recent (and comparatively trifling) comedies like Frances Ha to synthesize Baumbach's sharpest and tenderest opus since his acknowledged masterpiece, 2005’s The Squid and the Whale.

  • Moving away from the Gerwig-driven, youthful screwball humour of Frances Ha and Mistress America, Baumbach’s screenplay ventures more into observational comedy, with a side dose of broad slapstick (it does star Adam Sandler, after all). The lead cast all deliver performances that excel in bringing both emotional depth and humour to their respective roles, but it’s Sandler who really stands out.

  • Hoffman is often marvelously insufferable as Harold, whose stubbornness and artistic pomposity make him a spiritual cousin to Bernard Berkman, the novelist played by Jeff Daniels in Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale.” Like that film and Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Meyerowitz Stories” is very much about the burden of having a difficult dad, although toward the end I could have sworn the movie also morphed into a screwball remake of “Summer Hours.”

  • Although this is a male-weighted movie, there are no dud characters, and a democracy of humour is the currency. The relentless pace of the dialogue is at times exhausting, and the tone never really varies, yet this is forgiven when, hours after viewing, you find yourself grinning into the ether, remembering standout hoots from a cornucopia of Meyerowitz tales.

  • Sandler and his fellow leads make the film feel like Baumbach's richest film since The Squid and the Whale. The Meyerowitzes all speak with the wit and observational detail that one might expect from the screenwriter of such whip-smart comedies as Mistress America and Kicking and Screaming... This isn't just more of the same from Baumbach, a talented humorist, but a nuanced and highly accomplished collaboration that ranks among his finest to date.

  • It is rich and detailed and features a plethora of outstanding performances (Grace Van Patten and Adam Sandler, in particular)... Part of what makes The Meyerowitz Stories so emotionally insinuating is its sly specificity.

  • In one respect, it feels like a throwback to the American comedies of the 1930s and '40s. The dialogue sounds orchestrated—Baumbach paces and modulates his characters' speech with such care that the conversations play out like pieces of music... There's a breathless quality to much of the patter; you're often not sure until after a scene ends whether certain lines were meant to make you laugh or cry.

  • After spending most of the run time a little resistant to the movie, I fell for it: Of all things, it was Ben Stiller crying uncontrollably—and poignantly, like a goof—that got me there. Despite having all the trappings of a movie that’s too wink-wink and upper-crust for its own good, Meyerowitz is a weirdly genuine piece of filmmaking. It’s a perfect vehicle for the people it’s about—not least because it’s art better than what any of them could make.

  • It doesn’t quite have the drive and stylistic panache of other recent Baumbach efforts, but it makes up for that with sincerity, as well as moments of subtle satirical genius. The director perfectly captures the passive-aggressive and sometimes genuinely aggressive-aggressive back-and-forth between siblings and parents and children, plus the unstated hierarchies of the New York intelligentsia... This movie is so well-observed, it’s scary.

  • This breakthrough between siblings feels forced and hollow, but maybe that's a piercing comment on how easy it is to get one's hopes up in a crisis: These passages give way to a surprisingly bitter irresolution, wherein everyone finds a new way to rethink their relationship to the family except Harold. Baumbach has made a cunning and frequently hilarious film about exhuming the past and finding no diamond in the rough.

  • Familiar need not necessarily mean bad. And although it lacks the ambition that one typically associates with a Cannes Competition title (however much or little that's ultimately worth), there's an underlying melancholy imbued in every frame. It’s a “small” film—perhaps even a “minor work,” to borrow one character’s offhand assessment—but worth something all the same.

  • An occasionally brilliant, bittersweet, Baumbachian exploration of familial torment. At once funny and achingly sad, The Meyerowitz Stories treads a fine line between the gentle (a melodic piano score is provided by Randy Newman) and the brutal (Jennifer Lame’s editing often has the final word, jump-cutting characters off mid-sentence), mirroring both the rough and smooth ways that family can disarm and debilitate.

  • A force of nature, Thompson makes it impossible to overlook how much more thinly drawn Meyerowitz’s female characters are than their male counterparts... It's disappointing that any members of the ensemble get lost in a film so overwhelmingly eloquent about family dynamics, but that may reinforce Baumbach's point—above all, the stories we tell reflect our own interests.

  • Sometimes Baumbach can’t distinguish between generosity toward his characters and sentimentality. He gives them all sorts of jibes and wisecracks and looping soliloquies, as if we can’t see that it’s all just a lot of fancy dancing so he won’t have to let his guard down. Baumbach seems to want his characters to be as smart and skeptical as he is, all the time. Thank God that, at the movie’s end, he gives Sandler just the right note to hit. It’s the moment of catharsis we’ve been hoping for.

  • The densely talky film feels like a condensed version of a TV show, and it won’t lose much, cinematographically speaking, in its translation to the small screen, especially when so much of its staging is unremarkable: two-hander, often overlapping dialogue scenes, that run their course from beginning to end in a single location. In fact, the amiable and undemanding ‘Meyerowitz’ evokes so many other media — television, short story, theater — that it’s a little unclear as to quite why it’s a film.

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