A leg­endary thesp joins Adam San­dler, Ben Stiller, and Emma Thomp­son in a deeply sat­is­fy­ing selec­tion of Sto­ries

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - > KEN EISNER

A great cast shares its Meyerowitz Sto­ries; Mark Felt re­calls how he out-tricked Dick; Jackie Chan acts his age in The Foreigner; The Lime­house Golem is a lit­tle too stony.

THE MEYEROWITZ STO­RIES (NEW AND SE­LECTED) Star­ring Dustin Hoffman. Rat­ing un­avail­able

The sub­ti­tle to The Meyerowitz Sto­ries both 2

dis­plays and sub­tly mocks the lit­er­ary am­bi­tions of Noah Baum­bach’s thor­oughly de­light­ful new movie, which some might call a Squid and the Whale played for laughs.

The nar­ra­tives se­lected here re­volve around one fam­ily, it­self cir­cling Harold Meyerowitz, a once-promis­ing sculp­tor with a mid­dling teach­ing ca­reer be­hind him and an attic full of art no one wants. That he is played by Dustin Hoffman is prob­a­bly the movie’s great­est achieve­ment. His cease­less com­plaints have some­how con­vinced ev­ery­one else that he’s a greater man than he ac­tu­ally is. And most in thrall is older son Danny, played by Adam San­dler in his best straight role since Punch-drunk Love.

Danny has es­sen­tially failed at his only dis­cernible tal­ent: play­ing piano and writ­ing catchy tunes. His par­a­lyz­ing stage fright nipped that early, but he still tick­les the ivories for his one true achieve­ment, gutsy teenage daugh­ter El­iza (Grace Van Pat­ten). Danny’s a meek soul, seething with his own re­sent­ments, which emerge loudly when he’s driv­ing in Man­hat­tan traf­fic, or when any­one men­tions his brother from an­other mother, Matthew (Ben Stiller), a suc­cess­ful fi­nan­cial plan­ner in a fam­ily that never planned any­thing.

Be­ing the favoured son hasn’t helped Matt over­come dis­com­fort around his cranky dad, or Harold’s oft-tipsy fourth wife (Emma Thomp­son, hi­lar­i­ously trans­formed into a Brook­lyn boho). Theatre veteran El­iz­a­beth Marvel plays Matt’s sis­ter Jean, who ini­tially blends into the wood­work of Harold’s old brown­stone—the clan’s only as­set— when cir­cum­stances in­vite a clat­ter­ing re­union. But she has her own tales to tell.

Fam­ily lore is cen­tral to Baum­bach’s flaw­less script. On pa­per, this sounds like the stuff of melo­drama, but this Net­flix com­edy is an al­to­gether light-fin­gered cre­ation, with enough one­lin­ers and sharp-el­bowed ex­changes to at­tract A-lis­ters to the sup­port­ing roles. And yes, Adam San­dler re­ally does wear the same sad cargo shorts for the whole she­bang.

Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thomp­son are both knock­outs in writer-direc­tor Noah Baum­bach’s thor­oughly de­light­ful The Meyerowitz Sto­ries (New and Se­lected).

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