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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is a heartfelt comedy-drama with characters and situations that feel real and very human, even as they are quirky and exaggerated. It's a film for grown-ups, about grown-up emotions and family relationships fraught with conflict. Writer-director Noah Baumbach finds laughs in the tragedy of a mixed-up, multigenerational clan with a history of mistakes and disappointments, headed by a narcissistic father as compelling as he is manipulative. Expect frequent outbursts of swearing and obscenities, including "ass," "damn," "pr--k," "d--k," "son of a bitch," "penis," "masturbation," and multiple uses of "f--k" and "s--t." One scene describes a young girl's encounter with a sexual exhibitionist. A college-age filmmaker makes offbeat films that show bare breasts and farcical sexual behavior. A central character, an alcoholic, is seen drinking, drunk, and driving while drunk. Though this film is intended for adult audiences, some mature teens may enjoy it as well.
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What's the story?
Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman), the patriarch in THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED), is a sculptor who never met with the artistic or financial success he believed he deserved. The fact that he taught at a fine university for more than three decades doesn't salve his wounded ego. His three children from various marriages, Danny (Adam Sandler), Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), and Matthew (Ben Stiller), are still struggling with the effects of Harold's parenting, as well as his arrogance, rage, and jealousy of old friends. Structured as "chapters" in the film, the action shows the family meeting in New York City and its environs over a period of several months. They face illness, old resentments, and truths about their own strengths and inadequacies, as well as the certainty of their father's mortality.
Is it any good?
In this dazzling, fast-paced, and quick-witted yet insightful movie, Noah Baumbach uses his distinctive style and offbeat wit to reveal a family whose love-hate relationships are riveting. Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, usually cast in broadly comic roles, get to stand up and make movie magic with the formidable Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, and Emma Thompson, as well as a stellar featured cast. Grace Van Patten is delightful as Sandler's daughter, and Candice Bergen, Rebecca Miller, and Judd Hirsch show up for some juicy scenes. Baumbach, whose early triumph was The Squid and the Whale, once again finds humor in what is usually tragic, and tragedy in what is usually funny. Plus, it's obvious that he has a wonderful gift working with the often-unexpected actors he selects. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is highly recommended for those who like the "fun" in dysfunction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the writer-director combines both humor and pathos in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). How did the humor help illuminate the characters? How did the tragedy help explain their sometimes bizarre behavior?
Talk about the performances of Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller. Since both are more well-known as comic actors, were you surprised by their ability to play drama as well? How does this movie enlighten you about their versatility? Were you aware that it takes solid acting chops for both genres?
What role did music and musical performance play in this film? How did Danny's artistry help define his character? How did the music play an integral part in the family's connecting with one another?
- In theaters: October 13, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 13, 2017
- Cast: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman
- Director: Noah Baumbach
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Communication, Empathy
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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