Meyerowitz more snack than meal
the latest film by Noah baumbach, which is being released on Netflix, feels like a finely textured but unfinished suit. With a title evoking a collection of literary vignettes, tells a tale that, like the writer-director’s best work (The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha), is stitched together from the incisively cut fabric of life among New york city’s striving, neurotic culturati.
baumbach, the son of film critics Georgia brown and Jonathan baumbach, grew up swimming in waters teeming with Manhattan’s artsy— and, at times, sharky — elites. and he gets one thing exactly right here: the depiction of the embittered and too-smart-for-hisown-good artist.
but structurally, The Meyerowitz Stories is a shapeless and baggy thing. the artist in question is aging sculptor Harold Meyerowitz (dustin Hoffman), and the story (or assemblage of half-stories) revolves around his dysfunctional family, including: three adult children (adam Sandler, ben Stiller and the appropriately named elizabeth Marvel); a teenage grandchild (Grace Van Patten); and his fourth wife (emma thompson, in peak loopy mode, channelling a hybrid of Nanny McPhee and Harry Potter’s Sybill trelawny).
the acting is impeccable all around, and there is an undeniable, if perverse, appeal to spending time with these damaged but entertaining individuals. but The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) only makes for a bag of tasty snacks.