The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Dir: Noah Baumbach. With: Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson. 112 mins. Cert: 15
Noah Baumbach’s new film is an enjoyable family comedy, with all the pleasures of smart writing and ensemble casting. It’s a tale of sibling rivalry and daddy issues and disappointment with life, leavened with lateflowering tenderness. The drama plays on the differences between successful and unsuccessful people, and the tricky way the playing field is notionally levelled when the winners and losers are related, and family values must be considered to supersede any question of how well or badly the sibling players have done in the grea (or superficial) game of Life.
Ben Stiller plays Matthew Meyerowitz, a wealthy accountant in Los Angeles; he is the half-brother of Danny (Adam Sandler) and Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), who aren’t nearly as well off. But they live in New York, much closer there to their cantankerous and impossible father, Harold Meyerowitz (amusingly played by Dustin Hoffman), a grey-bearded sculptor, prickly on the subject of contemporaries who have done better than him. The children try to organise a retrospective show
of the sort that Harold longs for. Danny is himself heartbreakingly keen for the approval and friendship of his teenage daughter Eliza (Grace Van Patten) because she is about to study film at the college where Harold taught, and so might redeem his own failed life and his dysfunctional relationship with his father. It is terrifically pleasurable and entertaining and there is real charm, delicacy and warmth.