Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Summary: Family dynamics are always complicated, but the Meyerowitz family has dysfunction in spades. Eldest of the family is Harold (Dustin Hoffman), an eccentric aspiring sculptor who has been married several times and had three children as a result: Matthew (Ben Stiller), Danny (Adam Sandler), and Jean (Elizabeth Marvel). Harold constantly fawned over Matthew growing up but didn’t give the same attention to the other two, leaving them feeling neglected. Matthew left New York to get away from his father’s influence. Nowadays they’ve got their own families (in various states of disrepair) and they’ve come back together to discuss many things, such as selling Harold’s old loft and art pieces, an upcoming art exhibit, and Danny’s daughter Eliza (Grace Van Patten) going to Bard College, where Harold used to teach. But when Harold suddenly needs to be rushed to the hospital for a head injury, the family is left with one another to confront the various grievances they have with one another and to figure out just how far their father’s shadow extends.

Review: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is funny, heartfelt, and extremely good at capturing life’s messiness and family drama. Having a family of Jewish relatives on my father’s side, a lot of the moments portrayed here hit home, like the family members constantly talking over each other and the unspoken conflicts and resentments bubbling up at the worst times (especially the ones about who was there for which elderly family member). There’s more than just kvetching at each other, as the tender moments include singing goofy songs they made up around the piano, cringing at Eliza’s oversexed student films together, and many other sweet nothings we take for granted. It’s my favorite kind of slice of life, one that helps me appreciate life as a whole and gives me some good moments of introspection as well.

The acting is phenomenal and I can’t think of any other word I would rather use. Ben Stiller is admittedly pretty much Ben Stiller, which is still perfectly fine. Hoffman almost defies description, hitting some strange combination of curmudgeon, eccentric, and lost soul. I also have to give huge credit to Emma Thompson, who plays Harold’s current wife and a sort of aging hippie, completely disguising her accent and proving to be a believable frustration in her step-children’s lives.

But Adam… oh, Mr. Sandler… I take my hat off to you. This is, bar none, the best performance I’ve ever seen from him. He manages to pull off so many emotions, from the heartfelt to the goofy to complex combinations. He doesn’t rely on his normal shtick here — in fact, the only time he gets over-the-top shouty is when he has to deal with New York drivers (really, it’s the only response one can have to New York drivers). Adam Sandler has made me laugh and even think in the past, but this is the first time he’s made me feel for him by portraying something so real. I never thought I’d see the day, but I’m glad it came.

The cinematography also deserves mention as there was clearly a filmmaker’s eye behind the camera. Apart from being expertly framed, there’s a lot of motion that draws your eyes in the right direction. It’s more than just a collection of holding shots on a group of talking heads; the shots track to follow them walking, zoom in during conversations, and many other neat little tricks that give the movie so much flavor. The makers didn’t need to add this, but it helps give the visuals their own spice, shall we say.

More than anything, this is a very warm movie, by which I mean it gives me a feeling of comfort. If I had to guess why, I’d say it’s a combination of the likable and relatable performances and the palpable connection of family that’s ever present in all of the interactions. Like I said, it makes me appreciate life more, particularly concerning my own family and future. It may not have explosions or interwoven conspiracies, but it has my unconditional love. I think if you gave it a chance, it might get yours too.

Fun Tidbit: At the end of the film, Danny wears a suit that’s all but identical to the one worn by Sandler’s character in Punch Drunk Love, another great film where Sandler was amazing.

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