It has been a while since Adam Sandler got on the good side of critics.
The slapstick comedian, although still widely followed by his group of ardent mavericks, has had a hard time pleasing award juries and serious film aficionados. Now and then, of course, Sandler has surpassed himself when he has worked with good directors. Paul Thomas Anderson’s dreamy classic, Punch Drunk Love, brought about one of the best performances by Sandler, an actor whose forte includes portraying characters with a certain sense of self-loathing. And there were some other notable exceptions, such as James L. Brooks’ Spanglish, and Tom McCarthy’s The Cobbler. But by and large, despite his immense talent, Sandler has often been sidelined and stereotyped in Hollywood, and has found himself appearing in dreary and overwrought comedies.
But then, Noam Baumbach came along and cast him as Danny Meyerowitz, the failed musician son of a self-indulgent and underachieving sculptor dad, Harold Meyerowitz, played by the ever-effervescent Dustin Hoffman, in his new dysfunctional family drama, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). Baumbach has a penchant for turning real life observations into a cinematic pastiche of sorts — more literary than visual — and while he has been an adept storyteller who gets the best out of his actors almost every single time since his debut drama, The Squid and the Whale, he is now maturing into one of America’s best talents when it comes to dealing with dysfunctional fragments of so-called liberal, progressive families with a dash of satirical humor.
Other than Hoffman and Sandler, Baumbach’s work brims with fantastic performances, from Ben Stiller (who plays Harold’s other son) to Emma Thompson (probably Harold’s last wife whose, as NJ.com put it, “taste for white wine and Third World boho chic can’t hide her very sober, First World ambitions.” But it is Sandler on whom the critics have heaped the most amount of praise, with the New York Times noting that the actor is “a revelation” in the film, while The Village Voice also had some very flattering things to say about his performance.
“He’s given the performance of his life in Noah Baumbach’s free-spirited and likable The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), and it feels like something momentous and new for the actor. Whereas Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love used Sandler’s existing persona brilliantly to create an extreme and beautifully self-aware version of an Adam Sandler Movie, Baumbach successfully brings Sandler into the real world without ever quite letting him lose his Adam Sandler–ness.”
The Meyerowitz Stories will open in select theaters and on Netflix on October 13. If you are an Adam Sandler fan, or even if you just love amble-paced, well-crafted dramas, reserve the date!
[Featured Image by Netflix]