After finding myself in a deep YouTube binge, I came across a video of Adam Sandler and Miley Cyrus singing on the Jimmy Fallon show. The performance by Sandler was understated and quite lovely to watch. The same however cannot be said for most of his movies over the last decade.
With in-your-face comedies like Jack and Jill (2011), The Do-Over (2016) and The Ridiculous 6 (2015), it seemed that Sandler was quite happy staying in this corner. The video of the actor singing made me curious to see what he was up to lately. While I wasn’t confident that anything apart from a goofy Netflix special was going to be on his list of upcoming movies, I secretly hoped he would make a comeback and give us something reminiscent of Punch Drunk Love (2002). So, there I was, watching the preview for The Meyerowitz Stories.
I found myself watching the trailer for The Meyerowitz Stories and I was pleasantly surpised by how “un-Sandler” the movie looked. The film was written and directed by Noah Baumbach who I wasn’t familiar with, which was nice going into the film because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. The story follows three siblings, Danny Meyerowitz (Adam Sandler), Matthew Meyerowitz (Ben Stiller) and Jean Meyerowitz (Elizabeth Marvel), who struggle to have a healthy relationship with their ageing, artist father Harold Meyerowitz, played by Dustin Hoffman.
The movie doesn’t take long to make you feel the pain of a dysfunctional family. There is a lot of dialogue straight off the bat and it doesn’t let up throughout the whole film. Everyone speaks over each other, no one seems to really listen to anyone else, no one asks for what they really need, and interestingly, many scenes are cut off before a sentence can be finished, which really makes you feel the frustration that these characters must feel.
The siblings become closer and resolve some of their issues when their father ends up in hospital and they come together to take care of him. The events that lead to these resolutions are painful to watch but also hilarious. The film is by no means funny in a stub-your-toe kind of way, but in one that sees people who have repressed their feelings for so long finally let them out in a spectacular fashion.
As for Sandler, his performance was a lot like his singing performance with Miley Cyrus. It was understated and easy to watch. His random anger outbursts in the movie did remind me a lot of his performance in Punch Drunk Love but most importantly, it didn’t feel like I was watching Adam Sandler. I felt like I was watching a man who was in pain, who was sorting out his life. While Sandler stood out to me in this film, he didn’t take away from the other actors and they didn’t take away from him (which was surprising with Emma Thompson playing an extremely quirky step-mom). After watching this film I left feeling excited to see what Sandler was going to offer us next, and even if he does go back to his big-budget comedies like Grown Ups (2010), we may still get to look forward to a few diamonds in the rough.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised with The Meyerowitz Stories, and I would recommend that everyone give this movie at least one watch.
At the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, both Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller stated in a press conference that playing brothers in the movie was one of the best experiences they’ve ever had in their careers, as it allowed them to grow closer as friends than they ever have in the past.