Fans of Adam Sandler’s patented man-child character will be pleased to note he revives it for his newest film “The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected).” But those not enraptured with his childlike alter ego shouldn’t write this movie off. For the most part Sandler’s new one leaves the lowest-common denominator jokes behind in favour of highbrow (ish) humour. In other words, this is more “Punch Drink Love,” less “Billy Madison.”
Dustin Hoffman is Harold Meyerowitz, embittered sculptor, former art professor and walking, talking embodiment of New York neurosis. He’s also father to Danny (Sandler), Matthew (Ben Stiller) and Jean (Elizabeth Marvel). Harold is a crusty old man, self-centered and very aware of his lack of legacy. Newly divorced Danny has moved into the Greenwich Village home Harold shares with his fourth wife, Maureen (Emma Thompson).
The film studies the strained relationships between Harold and his kids but spends much of the movie detailing the half brothers Danny and Matthew. Danny stayed home to raise his daughter, has never had a job and now feels like a failure compared to the younger Matt, a Los Angeles hot shot with his own financial management company.
When Harold takes ill his children have to reassess their feelings for their difficult dad and each other.
“The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)” doesn’t have the guffaws that Sandler at his best can deliver. Instead it is dusted laughs derived from the situations and characters. At its heart it’s a story of family dysfunction populated by people who never dip into self-pity. Marvel makes the best of her few moments but it is Sandler and Stiller who deliver the goods. Both hit career highs playing toned down versions of their carefully crafted comedic characters. Adding real humanity to Danny and Matthew elevates them from caricature. By not going for the broad strokes they are able to create tender and stinging moments that are some of the best in both their careers.
Hoffman is a hoot, perfectly complimented by Thompson who has some of the film’s best lines. Of the supporting cast Grace Van Patten, Danny’s loving daughter, is a standout.
“The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)” could have been maudlin but when filtered through director Noah Baumbach’s sensibility is a smart and heartwarming.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s three big releases, “Independence Say: Resurgence,” with Jeff Goldblum, “The Shallows”with Blake Lively and “Free State of Jones” with Matthew McConaughey.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to talk about the big releases in theatres, including “Independence Say: Resurgence,” with Jeff Goldblum, “The Shallows”with Blake Lively, “Free State of Jones” with Matthew McConaughey and the weird and wonderful “The Neon Demon.”
In today’s world it’s not enough to simply be a hero. Now you must be a superhero. Unlike the old days when square-jawed movie stars rescued damsels in distress or battled cold-hearted landlords, today’s champions won’t get out of bed for anything less than the threat of complete world annihilation. Liberating a cat from a tree or performing the Heimlich Maneuver is considered HeroLite™, the work of lesser lifesavers.
Today it’s all about averting the apocalypse. In Captain America: Civil War the idea of how to police and ultimately save the world is at the heart of the action and X-Men: Apocalypse’s bad guy has grandiose plans to “cleanse mankind and create a new world order.”
This weekend the heroes of Independence Day: Resurgence join Mystique, Quicksilver, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Captain America and legendary do-gooders Batman and Superman in some good, old fashioned world saving.
The twenty-years-in-the-making sequel to Will Smith’s mega-hit sees aliens from outside the Solar System attack our planet. It’s life and death on a planetary scale, a premise that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
It’s not a surprise the stories are getting larger and louder. Audiences want a big bang for their buck and Hollywood is pleased to oblige with high stakes situations that provide frenetic action and happy endings (unless, of course you’re rooting for the bad guy). These days Hollywood also looks to overseas markets for mega-revenue and presenting globe-spanning stories helps to attract crowds in other countries.
Business aside, why have audiences embraced world-on-the-brink movies?
Films, says Dr. Norman Holland, Marston-Milbauer Eminent Scholar Emeritus at the University of Florida, work on different parts of your brain.
“The parts that turn off are the parts that plan action because you’re not going to act on what you see on the screen in front of you,” he says. “You turn off the systems that plan, that look ahead that evaluate futures. That explains the phenomenon of the willing suspension of disbelief. You accept the most improbable things, like Stars Wars or Spider-Man or whatever. At the same time the lower centres of your brain are generating emotions like mad in response to what you’re seeing. This is the peculiar phenomenon that you can feel and care about these people on the screen while at the same time knowing they are nothing but a fiction.”
In other words, it’s what legendary purveyor of thrills Alfred Hitchcock said. “People like to be scared when they feel safe.”
We live in unsettling and troubled times and going to the movies can provide an escape. In these heroic tales good almost always wins out, a comforting antidote to the nightly news where stories often don’t have happy endings. It makes us feel good, but, as Dr. Holland notes, it’s also restful.
“As you know they are redesigning movie theatres with recliner chairs so you can sleep through the movie,” he says. “Yes, it is relaxing. This is the part of your brain that worries, that plans for the future, that is concerned about the state of your body. All that shuts down. It’s restful, no question.”
Going to the movies is restful? Good for us? Seems like in our busy, stressful world it’s the films that are the heroes, not the characters.
“That is definitely bigger than the last one,” says David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum).
He’s talking about the alien spaceship that puts our planet in peril in “Independence Day: Resurgence,” the twenty-years-in-the-making sequel to Will Smith’s 90s mega-hit, but he could also be talking about the movie itself. It’s certainly bigger and louder than the original, but is it better?
In the two decades since the first invasion the world has become a better place. “Our survival is only possible when we stand together,” says President Lanford (Sela Ward). The White House has been rebuilt, a woman is President and countries now work together. There’s a military installation on the moon and using the ET technology salvaged from the downed spaceships they have safe guarded the planet from another attack.
Or so almost everyone thought.
Ex-President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is plagued by bad dreams—or are they premonitions?—of another extra-terrestrial incursion and it turns out he’s right. A distress signal from the first wave of space invaders triggered another assault, this time with bigger, badder aliens from deep, deep, deep space.
“Make them pay,” says ex-first daughter Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) to her boyfriend, warrior pilot Jake (Liam Hemsworth). “I’m not going out there to make friends,” he says. Look out aliens! Cue the computer generated carnage.
At their best big special effects movies like this should fill the viewer with wonder. Large-scale spectacle, like the world on the verge of collapse, should fill us with shock and awe but in “Independence Day: Resurgence” we have to settle for an unsettling sense of déjà vu. It’s a movie that exists as an excuse to showcase the special effects in a cynical attempt to recycle an idea that worked well enough the first time. Not only have we seen virtually everything here in the original film, we’ve seen similar images in every end-of-the-world movie from the last twenty years. Here they are bigger and louder, but not better.
Ditto the dialogue. It feels like a first draft to the original movie, updated for a new cast. Goldblum is always a welcome presence but he’s saddled with terrible, trite words and he gets most of the good lines. It’s the kind of movie were people ask questions instead of saying anything interesting. “How the hell did we miss this?” “What’s going on?” Or the classic, “What the…??!!,” delivered with mouth agape. It’s less a script than a series of catchphrases and questions cobbled together and sounds like it was all run through the Blandizer® before being handed over to the actors.
It’s the kind of movie where you root for the aliens, hoping they make quick work of humanity because that would be less painful than sitting through one more minute of this mess. You don’t watch “Independence Day: Resurgence,” you subject yourself to it because even though it could be the end of humanity there’s no real humanity here, just empty heroics.
The most alien thing about the movie is the presence of Lars Von Trier’s favourite actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. If anyone in the movie noticed she was there I’m sure they would say, “What the hell is she doing here?” Cashing a paycheque I imagine.
I really hated “Independence Day: Resurgence.” It’s a popcorn flick but this popcorn stale. “Independence Day”? More like “Groundhog Day.” We’ve seen it before and better.
Richard sits down with Alana De La Garza and Judd Hirsch of the new CTV show “Forever.” Here’s a synopsis from IMDB: A 200-year-old man works in the New York City Morgue trying to find a key to unlock the curse of his immortality.