The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Throughout the year, it’s always nice to hear the big highlights out of film festivals. I like to hear which films got standing ovations, boos, or even squeamish audiences due to its content. Examples of those this year include the coming-of-age cannibal film “Raw” and “The Disaster Artist,” an apparent great film about the making of one of the worst films ever made. However, the one that stuck out the most was a standing ovation for Adam Sandler…I’m being serious. Over the summer, he received a standing ovation for a film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. That film was Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” and after seeing it myself, I think more than just Sandler needs a standing ovation from this film.
The story is about a dysfunctional family and their relationship with each other, especially when unexpected events force them to all be in the same room. The patriarch of the family is Dustin Hoffman’s Harold Meyerowitz, an aging sculpture artist who never got the recognition he deserved which he’ll never let you forget. The oldest child is Adam Sandler’s Danny Meyerowitz, a man who is trying to figure out what to do with his life now that he is getting a divorce, his daughter is going to college, and he finally has an excuse to spend some time with his estranged father. The second oldest is Elizabeth Marvel’s Jean Meyerowitz who reminds me too much of Tina from “Bob’s Burgers.” And finally, the youngest is Ben Stiller’s Matthew Meyerowitz, a successful businessman who, despite being the favorite of his father, is trying his best not be anything like his father. Those four build a family dynamic that is toxic, hilarious, and interesting for its entire runtime.
In addition to its dysfunctional characters, the film has phenomenal editing. The film is broken down into chapters, cutting out any unnecessary stuff in-between. If the film ever decides to take its time with a scene, you know it’s for a purpose that builds on the relationships between the family. There are moments in the final chapter where fade-to-black cuts aren’t as smooth as the previous editing but it doesn’t hurt the story or the beautiful cinematography.
As for the comedy, it’s great. Noah Baumbach’s writing is the type of comedy that you have to be in the right mood for because it can be hit or miss. I’ve only seen one of his other films (2014’s “While We’re Young”) and from the two I’ve seen, his comedy can be considered pretentious or confusing if ill prepared. However once you open your mind to it, you’ll find a film that is constantly and impressively funny with only an occasion of having a joke setup not go anywhere. Even when the comedy becomes kind of lewd, it still works incredibly well. It’s the first film in a long time to make me laugh out loud time after time.
Now with all that out of the way, let’s get to the best part of the film: the performances. I love the cast and think that more than Sandler deserved a standing ovation though he is one of my favorite performances of the year. Ben Stiller is phenomenal, Elizabeth Marvel has the best comedic tone and timing in the bunch, Dustin Hoffman kills it as the patriarch, Emma Thompson’s Maureen is wonderful, and even Danny’s daughter Eliza is very good. The film creates an ensemble that is so phenomenal that it deserves award recognition. It might even be my favorite acting ensemble of the year.
“The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” is, without a doubt, the best comedy I’ve seen all year. Great performances, beautiful cinematography, a whimsical score by Randy Newman, and great writing make this heartfelt, hilarious, and even sad film one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Definitely one of my favorite films on Netflix right now so if you need something to watch in the near future, I cannot recommend this film enough.
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Quick, engaging editing
Few comedic setups with no payoff
Odd transitions in third act