The Meyerowitz Sto­ries (New and Se­lected)

The Guardian - G2 - - Reviews Film - Peter Brad­shaw

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.

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