Tag Archives: Adam Sandler

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES

Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Adam Sandler, Grace Van Patten, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson, Ben Stiller

“The Meyerowitz Stories” is the story of an estranged family who gather together in New York for an event celebrating the artistic work of their father.

Going into “The Meyerowitz Stories” I didn’t really know what to expect as I felt the first half hour was introducing all the different family members and it played out like a kinda comedy drama without digging too deep into any character development. Most of these scenes are filled with heavy dialogue as the cameras pan around the family, although the opening scene with Danny (Adam Sandler) and his daughter Eliza (Grace Van Patten) immediately gives the audience an indication on the tone of the movie.

Writer / Director Noah Baumbach’s structure to this movie is in chapters and the development and depth of the characters is slowly and subtly drip fed to the viewers and by the end of this story you can identify and relate to them. Baumbach’s pacing throughout is consistent and each character’s story is respected and well rounded.

Dustin Hoffman as the artist father Harold is a joy to watch and at the same time frustrating. His annoyance and perhaps jealousy of his old friend and fellow “more successful” artist LJ Shapiro (Judd Hirsch) is rather amusing and although comes across a little bitter is actually harmless. His screen time is mostly with his son from his first marriage Danny and although there are signs of a strained relationship Hoffman and Sandler come off well in these scenes and are a believable Father and Son.

Adam Sandler seems to be going through a phase in his career for every underwhelming movie he appears in his next is pretty decent. His run of movies on a Netflix at the moment have been pretty inconsistent of late but nevertheless he seems suited as the role of Danny the son who is a talented musician but never feels the urge or ambition to exercise his talents. Ironically of late these roles seem to suit him and the audience don’t appear to be giving him a rough ride. It’s his more expected outlandish comedic roles that appear to suffer.

One of his successes is his relationship with his daughter Eliza who is played by Grace Van Patten. Their opening scene allows the audience to understand the relationship between Father and Daughter and to be fair although has limited screen time, Van Patten’s character is pretty memorable as a talented student film maker and her movies, although disturbingly humorous.

Elizabeth Marvel is Danny’s rather odd but brilliant sister Jean. I don’t think there was any scene Marvel was in that wasn’t subdued or run of the mill. Her lines where impactful and memorable and as the story unfolds, quite sad in a way that I don’t want to spoil, but I will say this. There is a reason why she is who she is.

Emma Thompson as Harold’s third wife Maureen is a rather dysfunctional and odd character who appears to be stuck in a hippy era that portrays the character as a step mother who suffers low confidence and scatty at times and for someone as talented as Thompson appeared a waste that her time on screen is limited.

Ben Stiller as Matthew, the half brother to Jean and Danny and I must say his introduction to the movie came at the right time. Matthew is a financial adviser and one of his clients is Randy played by Adam Driver. Matthew is in the middle of an on-site inspection with Randy when he receives a call fro his Dad Harold who is meeting him for lunch. Unfortunately Adam Driver’s role is a mere cameo and only sets up the lunch scene with Stiller and Hoffman. Harold’s irritation of the fellow next to him is hilarious and show little signs that Father and Son are very different people.

I must admit as the movie moved on into the hour mark I was beginning to doubt Stiller and Sandler would share any screen time and it isn’t until their father is admitted to hospital in a very serious state. The relationship between both Danny and Matthew is more pleasant than what I was expecting as all indications at the beginning of the movie pointed in the direction that Matthew was the favourite son and there would be tension between both half brothers. Thankfully the character of Jean was just as prominent in this part of the movie and still had an important role and reveal.

“The Meyerowitz Stories” for me is a traditional dysfunctional family drama that appears to work. The movie’s conclusion gives you enough to know that all of these peoples lives go on regardless what happens at the end of the movie and Director Noah Baumbach although probably doesn’t want to explain every little detail on what happens next to them leaves enough for the audience to be satisfied. Baumbach’s story could be borderline “a hint of pretentiousness” but thankfully fell on the right side of that line. Character wise we were introduced to them as strangers just like in real life and by the end of the movie you understood them. The movie has the right blend of comedy and drama and this is why I would recommend giving this movie a go.

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Sandy Wexler (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

SANDY WEXLER

Director: Steven Brill
Writers: Adam Sandler (screenplay),  Adam Sandler
Stars: Adam Sandler,  Jennifer Hudson,  Kevin James

Adam Sandler films were a staple diet in my viewing habits in the mid 90’s to early 2000’s. I admit I loved the child like characteristics of Billy Maddison and his Anger issues in Happy Gilmore, even teaming up with Damon Wayons in the 1996 film Bulletproof was a really funny cop versus the villain movie. I think it’s fair to say Sandler ’s popularity in these early films and appearing as a regular on SNL catapulted him to the successful and funny romantic comedy “The Wedding Singer” and a couple of years later in the hit film “Big Daddy”

Sandler could do no wrong as far as the public could see. Even lesser successes in the box office and reviews such as Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds still managed to please his fan base even if the humour felt a little repeated and Sandler felt the need to put the Billy Maddison child like voice on every once in a while. I really could go on with countless hits in his resume (Anger Management, Reign on Me etc) somewhere down the line as the first decade in the new millennium was coming to a close, I felt he did his last great movie in Funny People. This movie really captured Adam’s acting abilities in the same way Reign on Me did previously and I also felt the script was strong with a great supporting cast.

After this, the quality dipped as films like “Grown Ups”, “Jack and Jill” and even a “Grown Ups 2” came out. “Pixels” was okay and then a string of Netflix flops followed. It’s fair to say this decade really has been a mixed bag for Sandler and going into “Sandy Wexler” I have to admit my expectations were very low.

Back in 1995 Sandy Wexler was a talent manager working in LA, representing a group of low standard clients on the outskirts of the business. His focus and attention draws him to  his newest client by accident in Courtney Clarke, a  talented singer who Sandy discovers at an amusement park. Sandy Wexler surprised me a bit as for the first hour it was really just Sandler going through his Billy Maddison/ Little Nicky routine of putting on that voice and bumbling around like an idiot. Around the half way point the movie began to pick up in storyline and Wexler became a little more interesting and layered thanks to the script and story portraying a troubled man who felt he had to say what people wanted to hear all the time and never spoke the truth about how he felt.

The relationship between Sandy and Courtney was complex and it reminded me a little of the Forest Gump / Jenny relationship. Courtney breezes in and out of Sandy’s life and the contrasts between their lives although professionally are drifting apart, there appears to be a special bond between the singer and her former manager that keeps drawing her back into his life.

Like many of Adam Sandler’s movies, there are way too many celebrity appearances that are inter sliced throughout the movie in flash backs and narration on how they know the man and have a story to tell about him. Arsenio Hall, Jimmy Kimmel, Quincy Jones, Weird Al, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, Vanilla Ice, and Dana Carvey. It is also littered with minor cameos from Sandlers crowd in Kevin James, Henry Winkler, David Spade, Chris Rock etc but thankfully they are just that…cameos. With the movie set in the mid 1990’s I feel the cinematography was clever and a lot of the sets, music and fashion really hit the nail on the head. Arsenio Hall playing a 1995 version of himself didn’t look odd and looked like he just walked off the set of “Coming to America” (the guy doesn’t age)

Sandy Wexler is based on Adam Sandler former manager Sandy Wernick and I think this helps develop the character knowing it is based on someone Sandler worked closely with. This movie is definitely watchable and entertaining to a point if you can sit through the first 45 to 60 minutes and keep an open mind. There’s a bit of a charm and method the movies madness. It is predictable comedy at times but  it also has it’s moments. Some of the one liners are actually funny and he drops in little nuggets of previous nods to his back catalogue that are more subtle than normal. I would give it a watch as it certainly is a better film than the previous Netflix releases from Adam Sandler.