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The Meyerowitz Stories Review - Flawless, Dynamic, Character Driven Performances

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The Meyerowitz Stories, from IAC Film and Netflix, presents life in Manhattan for three generations of the Jewish, dysfunctional, blended family who are coping with the transitions of life and are suddenly catapulted into decision makers.

Directed and written by Noah Baumbach, The Meyerowitz Stories stars Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Grace Van Patten, Elizabeth Marvel, Adam Driver, Judd Hirsch, Sigourney Weaver, Rebecca Miller, Danny Flaherty and Candice Bergen.

The Meyerowitz Stories center around three generation of a lower East Side Jewish family with Harold, played by Dustin Hoffman, his wife, Maureen, played by Emma Thompson, a Shiksa and an ditsy drunk, his three children, Danny and Jean, played by Adam Sandler, and Elizabeth Marvel, from his first marriage, and Matthew, played by Ben Stiller from his second wife, Julia, played by Candice Bergen. Danny's daughter, Eliza, played by Grace Van Patten is heading off to college and spending the last night with her family.

The film opens with Danny looking for the ever elusive parking space. In typical New York fashion, he bellows curses each time he sees a possible space, which turns out to be either unavailable because of New York Parking regulations, too small or too far. Soon, as it is the laws of physics, one space becomes available. 


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Danny and Eliza finally arrive at his childhood home which his dad, Harold, played by Dustin Hoffman and his new wife, (the third), Maureen, played by Emma Thompson, and his sister Jean, played by Elizabeth Marvel, are having dinner.

Harold, of course, gushes over his wife's ability to prepare a lovely meal, unfortunately for the rest of the family who can see her as she is, charm and faults, tolerating an under-cooked seafood dinner is the least they can do for their Dad.

A couple of things are happening in The Meyerowitz household, Harold and Maureen are thinking of selling the townhouse as they spend time in the country more than the city, which has the children freaking, and Harold recently took a fall while walking the dog.  

Eliza is heading off to college the next day and is spending the last night with family she still doting on her dad making she he doesn't eat the fish. And of course, as Harold was at one time a well-known and noted sculptor, who sold a piece to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, and a professor at Bard, the University is planning a retrospective on his work.

Suddenly everything is influx, and as we find out over dinner Matthew, Harold's other son, played by Ben Stiller, from his second marriage to Julia, played by Candice Bergin, and half-brother to Danny and Maureen, is flying in from Los Angeles. Matthew is the only Meyerowitz to make the jump and finally break the starving artist pattern.

And of course, now that the kids are adults, the usual sibling rivalry that comes naturally in most homes and exponentially increased as Danny and Jean are from the first wife, when Harold was a struggling artist, and Matthew, enjoyed a much different childhood that included the summers on the Vineyard with other successful intellectuals and artists, as the only child of his second marriage.

The Meyerowitz Stories are about New York City life, those who live, breathe, and swear allegiance to the greatest city in the world, and the transitions of life.

I thought it was genuine New York, without bidding farewell to another famous New York centric director Noah Baumbach can step into the iconic New York director role effortlessly.

The Meyerowitz Stories weaves the stories of a family together seamlessly, the performances are excellent.


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It would be difficult to single out the cast as each gave genuine, believable, quirky portrayals of how they fit into their father's life. And how they will carry on the legacy and traditions once he, who essentially is the rock, passes.  

Always a solid choice in any film Judd Hirsch, who plays the more celebrated sculptor friend, L.J. Shapiro. Sigourney Weaver, who plays herself, adds authenticity to the life in city as she and Harold meet at the MOMA.

The casting is perfect. It would be next to impossible to find a group of talent so suited for the roles. Even with the two sons, same father, at different times in his success they mirror those moments. And Emma Thompson's bohemian dressing alcoholic is noteworthy, she brings a full picture.

Each of the main characters have these stellar moments. The son's each with their own father issues, Adam Sandler's bellowing in the beginning over the parking space is typical New Yorker; Ben Stiller, the successful son who believes he lost his father's approval and love in the process of his Los Angeles success. I mean it is Los Angeles, "what can you do there that you can't do here?"

Dustin Hoffman carries this family, blind to his new wife's faults, and realizes almost too late how much he depends on his children.  

Not since Hannah and Her Sisters, has a director presented such an genuine view of family life for a dysfunctional, traditional and blended family. The Meyerowitz Stories is another success for Noah Baumbach and company.

The Meyerowitz Stories opens theatrically Friday October 13, 2017 with a dual opening on Netflix.

 

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