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The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

This is the new movie from Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Squid and the Whale) who gives us another very insightful movie about family dysfunction and how its members deal with it. There are three siblings – Danny (Adam Sandler), Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), and Matthew (Ben Stiller), who is actually a half sibling to the others. All are dealing with their cantankerous father Harold (Dustin Hoffman), a has-been sculptor who has been married 4 times. The film is told in stories in which one of the siblings is the focus and that examine the relationships each has with Harold. This is Baumbach at his best. The dialog is great, as is the acting. Emma Thompson is hilarious as Harold’s alcoholic wife. The movie I think really belongs to Sandler, who is both can be both very funny and very troubled in his relationship with his father at the same time. The movie takes a very humorous yet sympathetic look at the dynamics underneath the surface of families. It also examines how generational differences influence those dynamics; there is one hilarious scene when grandparent, parent, and aunts and uncles watch a feminist movie Danny’s daughter put on line. Big thumbs up from me – I love how Baumbach can use humor and empathy to illuminate family functioning. My only quibble is that it seemed to have a lot of endings – every time I thought the movie was over it cut to a new scene. Some trimming at the end would have been good. Also, this movie is a Netflix movie, so if you subscribe to the service, you can see it for free.

About Gary Burkholder

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