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Dustin Hoffman and Adam Sandler shine in Noah Baumbach’s familiar The Meyerowitz Stories: EW review

The title is a tip-off to the literary ambitions of writer-director Noah Baumbach’s semi-dark Netflix comedy, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). It gives off the faint bookish whiff of a J.D. Salinger short story collection. And what unspools over the next comedically caustic two hours does as well. This is a New York-set fable about a dysfunctional, artsy family and its discontents that are aimed at the same audience who appreciated previous Baumbach films such as The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding. It’s smart, relatable, laughter-through-psychic pain entertainment that happens to be elevated by a handful of wonderful performances even if it, at times, feels like a lesser version of The Royal Tenenbaums — another urbane tale about an oblivious, difficult, self-centered patriarch and the lingering damage he’s done to his three neurotic, now-grown children.

The Meyerowitz Stories works in large part due to the actor playing that patriarch, Dustin Hoffman. With his leonine, snow-white beard, touchy narcissism, and blind disregard for the feelings of his kids (or anyone else, for that matter), Hoffman looks like a cross between Santa Claus and a late-period Sterling Hayden. He’s fantastic. Harold Meyerowitz is easily the actor’s juiciest role in years and he seems to know it, tearing into each barbed, backhanded insult like a true master in the dark art of undermining. Harold’s offspring are played by Adam Sandler (his best performance since 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love – arguably his only performance since 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love), Ben Stiller (acing the kind of apoplectic, Type-A role he’s played many times before, including The Royal Tenenbaums), and Elizabeth Marvel (deadpan perfection hiding behind a long, lank hairdo that matches her wallflower personality to a tee).

Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Baumbach parcels out the story of this strained family in chapters. The

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