"The Idea of Yourself"
A Review of "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" by Nathan H. Box
Directors: Noah Baumbach, Writer: Noah Baumbach, Starring: Adam Sandler, Grace Van Patten, Dustin Hoffman.
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
"The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" focuses on an estranged family as they gather in New York for an event in honor of the artistic work of their father. Like most families, the relationships between each character is complicated. As they come to terms with the relationship they possess with their father and each other, the level of drama only intensifies.
You may need to sit down for the opening line of my critique of this film. Sitting down? Good. Adam Sandler is about to be nominated for an Oscar. Yes, the same guy who cussed at a golf ball and talked to a penguin in a drunken stupor is about to be nominated for Hollywood's biggest prize. Yet, those of us who have been paying attention to his dramatic work like "Punch Drunk Love," "The Cobbler," and "Reign Over Me" may not find this forthcoming nomination a surprise. In this film, he is brilliant as a loving father trying to bridge the gaps of the past by being the man his father could never be. In doing so, he turns in the performance of his career.
In Dustin Hoffman, we find a father who seems to be more focused on his work than his children. Throughout the film, we discover he suffers from delusions of grandeur and jealousy toward those who made it. He serves as an odd anchor for a family. For much of the film, he seems like a man who had kids because your "supposed to have kids." His self-centered nature creates complicated family dynamics that impacts every person around him. By the time the credits roll, his character will leave you questioning the idea of yourself and how you're perceived. For giving us this baggage to carry home, Dustin Hoffman also deserves a nomination.
In Ben Stiller, we find a man who has much in common with his father. There are two key differences, though. First, he is focused on business, not art much to the dismay of his father. Secondly, he seems to realize his flaws and works hard to correct them. To me, this is evident in his phone calls home and the sense of responsibility to be present.
Things are further complicated when Dustin Hoffman's character is admitted to the hospital. The possibility of end of life decisions becomes very real. Each of the three children is forced to come to terms with their father and find a way to forgive him for his shortcomings. For each of the characters, this is their moment to shine and they do not disappoint. Each submits memorable performances worthy of recognition.
When the film ends, you'll be left to evaluate the relationship you have with your own families. Great movies do this. They give you something to take from the screen to apply to your real life. And this is a great film.
Be good to each other,