Say what you like about Adam Sandler, and frankly people do, but he does try with his films. And boy are they are trying because anyone who has endured Pixels, Little Nicky et al will know they are an ordeal to sit through being woefully unamusing comedies that invariably become box office bombs. Problem is that, much like the Editors old school reports, he can do better as seen with Paul Thomas Anderson’s utterly charming ‘Punch Drunk Love’ which showed that Sandler, if given the right script and director, can be good. So he must be thanking the heavens above for writer/director Noah Baumbach who has gifted him a peach of a role that shows that, much like Jim Carrey, he’s a far better serious actor than comic.
Here Sandler plays Danny father to Eliza ( Grace Van Patten) and son to Harold (Dustin Hoffman), a crotchety sculptor married to an enjoyably ditzy Maureen (Emma Thompson) and brother to Matthew(Ben Stiller) who again proves that he’s as adept a straight actor as he is a comic one. What follows is a wonderfully engrossing ensemble piece with Sandler, Hoffman & Stiller in the best roles they have had for some time as a family that bicker but ultimately are as close and loving despite their surface animosity to each other.
Baumbach’s films can veer between very good and over indulgent and are very much in the mould of Wes Anderson but also owe much to Woody Allen’s and like the great man himself the three main leads are Jewish actors with typically acute observations and seethingly incisive comments on family.
There’s much to be enjoyed here with Sandler especially good even when flashes of his angry stand up routine bleed into his performance and Hoffman, who seems to have been out of the limelight for some years now, gives a reminder of how good he still is. Financed by Netflix the company seem to be rightly investing their immense finances in films which, in this case, are both funny and poignant and this is well worth seeing.
Here’s the trailer…….