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Review: Sandler, Stiller help tell ‘Meyerowitz Stories’

Aa

“The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” is like “The Royal Tenenbaums” at a therapy session.

Dustin Hoffman is Harold Meyerowitz, a New York artist who perpetually feels like he was overlooked in the art world. His children — Danny (Adam Sandler), Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) and their half-brother, Matthew (Ben Stiller) — have grown up in his shadow (as well as his self-made myth), dealing with his self-absorption and taking on his burden in their own ways.

Danny was a talented musician who never fully pursued music as a career, a regret he carries with him. He has managed to avoid work the duration of his adult life while raising his daughter (Grace Van Patten), an aspiring filmmaker (her neo-sexploration films are a hoot) who’s headed off to college.

Matthew has avoided the art world and fled the trappings of his family for Los Angeles, where he works in finance. He’s driven by the pursuit to “beat” his father in life — financially, if nothing else.

The Meyerowitz kids come back together in New York when Harold is suddenly hospitalized. Faced with his death, they must finally confront all those uncomfortable truths about their father, and themselves: Was he a good father, was he a good artist, have they squandered their lives, can they forgive him and themselves?

Writer-director Noah Baumbach, who has worked through his father issues before (see “The Squid and the Whale”), presents a complex story that explores the deep wells of family dynamics. Netflix crowds craving a slapstick riot with the pairing of Sandler and Stiller will instead discover a rich drama about parental ties, parental scars and getting on with life.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’

GRADE: B

Not rated: language, nudity

Running time: 110 minutes

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