The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), writer-director Noah Baumbach’s latest family comedy, is entirely character-driven (usually a very good thing). We really don’t see anything on screen that isn’t intended to reveal something about a character – a man’s lack of confidence, his father’s vanity, his daughter’s surprising well-groundedness. The story (not really a plot) moves from set piece to set piece, beginning with a funny (and futile) search for a Manhattan parking space, each depicting the family quirks and tensions.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is star studded (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Grace Van Patten, Emma Thompson, Judd Hirsch, a cameo by Sigourney Weaver) and very well-acted. The problem is that, once I was introduced to these characters, I really wasn’t interested in what would happen to them next. I only lasted 42 minutes before reaching for the remote.
Baumbach has become somewhat of a brand name for naval-gazing (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg, Mistress America), and his work has tended toward the Woody Allen neurotic New Yorker genre, only with less depth and FAR less comedy.
You can stream The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) on Netflix Instant, but I can’t imagine why you would want to.