“Much like real life there are some comedic elements, but also like real life it is depressing as shit.”
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is a movie that I didn’t know anything about going into it. I decided to watch it simply because I heard that Adam Sandler was once again breaking free from his Happy Madison comfort zone and starring in a drama. The film is written and directed by Noah Baumbach, but that also meant nothing to me at the time (I have heard of his movies, but have never seen one). All that being said I absolutely, positively loved The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), and I look forward to seeing what else of Noah Baumbach’s I have missed over the years.
So as I said I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I turned on The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).I had assumed that the film would be about a man who connects with various people throughout the course of his life, but it turns out it’s actually about a dysfunctional family (a subject I am all too familiar with). One thing that I found interesting about The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) was the way the story was structured. The film follows three characters, all children of Harold Meyerowitz, and is structured accordingly. The two ‘main’ chunks of the film follow Danny (played by Adam Sandler) and Matthew (played by Ben Stiller), Harold Meyerowitz’s two sons. One thing I had wished is that Jean, Harold’s daughter, had gotten a bigger role, but we’ll get to that a bit later. The way the film is structured heavily segments the film into the stories of these two characters (and Jean is there too). We get to see their individual relationships with their father, and then toward the end of the movie we get to see their relationships with each other. This worked tremendously for the film because it allowed us to grow attached to these characters individually, and really learn everything there is to know about them. One criticism I could raise is that the structure does make the movie feel long at times, but that’s not exactly a bad thing because it was never boring. I do feel that a more traditional story structure could have fixed any and all pacing issues, but the way it is presented now gives it charm and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I also found the editing in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) to be rather interesting, because it seemed kind of hectic (cutting people off mid-sent—), but at the same time it was very calculated. I’m not sure if this was an efficiency-based decision or one that was meant to mimic real life (how hectic it is or some shit, I dunno) but it was definitely interesting.
As far as the story goes, there really wasn’t one. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) didn’t really have a ‘point’, but that’s okay. The writing in the film managed to create a lot of real-life scenarios and situations that really made you believe what you were seeing. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) managed to be both heart-wrenching and hilarious almost entirely throughout. The inclusion of jokes was welcomed, but I wouldn’t go so far as call The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) a comedy. Much like real life there are some comedic elements, but also like real life it is depressing as shit. I also found the ending to be a little abstract for my tastes, but once again this wasn’t enough to sour my overall experience. The movie having very little ‘point’, as it were, doesn’t matter much at all because what you need to watch The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) for are the performances. The one that I was most excited about was Adam Sandler because I know that he has it in himself to give phenomenal performances, and let me tell you: I was not disappointed in the slightest. Adam Sandler as Danny in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is one of the better performances I have seen all year. Maybe that’s just the relief of finally having a good Adam Sandler performance again, but it was fucking incredible. You relate so much with Danny in this film, and you understand all of the thoughts going through his head. The entire film allows you to see what Adam Sandler has to offer, and it is quite a bit. Next up we have Ben Stiller who delivered what might be my favourite performance of his (at least in the past little while). For the most part Ben Stiller as Matthew is just ‘Ben Stiller’, but there is one scene in the movie where he really gets to let loose and honestly it almost brought me to tears. Seeing these conflicting emotions on the inside of this character is heartbreaking, and honestly his ‘arc’ in the movie might be my favourite part about it. You then of course have Dustin Hoffman playing Harold Meyerowitz who knocks it out of the park. He plays the stubborn, know-it-all old man with such ease that you wonder if he was acting at all. Everyone seems to be talking about Grace Van Patten (who played Danny’s daughter) as well and, although she was good, I didn’t really see enough of her to think her performance was amazing. Sure she played what she was there to play, but what she was there to play was a supporting character. The movie isn’t really about her, so she wasn’t in it all that much. And on that same idea, another performance we didn’t get to see enough of was Elizabeth Marvel as Jean, Harold’s daughter. I’m only really familiar with Elizabeth Marvel as Heather Dunbar in House of Cards, so what surprised me is just how different this character is from what I’m used to. Elizabeth Marvel plays Jean so subtly and with such precision that you can’t help but want to see more. That’s why I was sad that she didn’t get her ‘chapter’ of the film, because I would have loved to see her in the spotlight. That being said, what I did get to see I loved; and don’t they say that you should always leave them wanting more anyway?
Overall The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is a movie that I highly recommend. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I watched it, but it didn’t disappoint in any way. I found the story structure of the film to be interesting, and though the movie didn’t really have a ‘point’ it’s worth it to watch just for the amazing performances.
I give The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) an A