starring Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson
written and directed by Noah Baumbach
by Angelo Muredda Late in Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), one-time piano protégé turned arrested adult Danny Meyerowitz (Adam Sandler) bemoans the fact that his father's casual abuse over the years never culminated in that one unforgivable thing he or his sister Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) could point to as a deal-breaker, beyond which no love or mercy could be extended. Instead, he says, Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Huffman)--a decently gifted sculptor and by most accounts better college professor whose work is now worth less than the attic it's stored in--hit them with "tiny things every day. Drip, drip, drip." With Kicking and Screaming and The Squid and the Whale, Baumbach carved out an impressive niche for himself as a chronicler of how parents' micro-aggressions, that steady drip of petty criticisms and unnecessarily cutting observations, leave a mark on their hyper-literate upper-middle-class American children. But he's never found so clear a voice to get across both the anguish and the humour of that condition as he has in his newest, a fussily-constructed but involving and at times impossibly sad family drama about the existential terror of being just smart enough and talented enough to know you're nothing special.