The Magnificent Meyersons


Just a walk in the park.

(2021) Drama (Argot) Kate Mulgrew, Richard Kind, Ian Kahn, Jackie Burns, Daniel Eric Gold, Shoshannah Stern, Barbara Barrie, Lauren Ridloff, Melissa Errico, Greg Keller, Neal Huff, Lilly Stein, Kate MacCluggage, Ajay Naidu, Terrence Gray, Talia Oppenheimer, Sarah Nealis, Andrew Hovelson, Allyson Morgan, Bryan Fitzgerald, Anna Dale Robinson, Athan Sporek, Henny Russell. Directed by Evan Oppenheimer

 

Through thick and thin, we rely on our family to provide support and stability. Even when the family is beset by traumatic circumstances, we cling to those that we can be certain still love us. It is as a life raft on a stormy sea.

Dr. Terri Meyerson (Mulgrew) is a pediatric oncologist and the matriarch of the Meyerson family. She sometimes wonders why on earth she took a job that sometimes entails telling parents that their child is about to die, but she manages to take her role with as much grace and dignity as she can muster, both of which were once stripped from her when her husband, Morty (Kind), deserted the family to deal with a mental illness. At the time, he flippantly told her “see you in a few days” but has been gone for decades.

She has her mother Celeste (Barrie), an acerbic sharp-tongued octogenarian who loves her grandkids (and great-grandkids) but that doesn’t keep her from taking jabs at them. And of course, Terri has her kids; Roland (Kahn), the eldest, a successful businessman and a bit of a hypochondriac when it comes to his daughter Stefania (T. Oppenheimer); Daphne (Burns), a publisher married to Alan (Keller) who has just terminated her pregnancy without consulting her husband, a source of contention between them; Susie (Stern), a deaf real-estate agent who is in a relationship with Tammy (Ridloff), and finally Daniel (Gold), who is studying to be a rabbi and often gets into theological discussions with Catholic priest Father Joe (Duff).

It seems to be an ordinary day in New York City, but events turn it into an extraordinary one; the first affects all New Yorkers (heck, it affects everyone) and the second, just the Meyersons. Both seem to be unlikely, but both are events that all the Meyersons will have to deal with – in each his or her own way.

This is a movie very much influenced by New York City. The Meyersons are well-educated, literate and thoughtful, one and all. They talk about meaningful things and ask deep questions of one another. They are, in short, searching for answers to imponderable questions and understand deep down that they aren’t likely to get any. The dialogue they speak reflects that literacy, and may at times be too smart for its own good – the Meyersons can come off as pretentious from time to time, which let’s face it can be true of an awful lot of New Yorkers, but that’s what comes from living in a city like New York. They at least come by it honestly.

The ensemble cast is, as is normally the case with ensembles, dominated by the more experienced actors. The most delightful is Barrie, who has already been nominated for nearly every major acting award at one time or another. She is the scene-stealer here, and you end up looking forward to her every appearance. Mulgrew does nearly as well in her most Janeway-like role since Star Trek: Voyager ended. Terri is a little more vulnerable than the starship captain, however, although she covers it with a patina of competency that comes from her profession. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of that side of her though. Kind also does well here, being genuinely cuddly when he needs to be and somewhat lost and befudled when he has to be. He doesn’t overdo the pathos, which lesser actors might have done.

The actors playing the kids get the lions share of the screen time though, and while they all submit strong performances, none really stand out the way the other three do. They are given a lot of fairly lofty dialogue, discussing their place in the universe, relationships with God, with each other, and from time to time, the open wound that was left by their father leaving the family.

And I wish they had stuck to that story. The first “event” I referred to earlier – the one that affects “everyone,” seems terribly out of place in the movie. I understand the reason that they chose to do it, but it flat-out doesn’t work. It ends up being a massive distraction and strays away from the more important themes here – specifically, the ability to reconcile when one is wounded by someone beyond forgiveness, and whether those who stray from the family can find their way back again. Those are subjects far more in tune with the tone of the movie and had writer/director Evan Oppenheimer opted to stick with just that, he would have had a terrific film on his hands. He still does, but not quite as terrific as it might have been.

REASONS TO SEE: Smart dialogue gives hints of deep conversations. Strong performances by most of the ensemble, with Barbara Barrie emerging from the pack.
REASONS TO AVOID: The midpoint plot twist was regrettable and unnecessary.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Mulgrew, who originated the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, will be reprising the role in the new children’s animated series Star Trek: Prodigy, debuting next month on Paramount Plus.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/23/21: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Royal Tenenbaums
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt)

New Releases for the Week of September 24, 2021


DEAR EVAN HANSEN

(Universal) Ben Platt, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani, Danny Pino, Colton Ryan. Directed by Stephen Chbosky

The hit Broadway musical comes to the big screen, as we follow the titular character – an isolated, stressed-out high school boy who is in therapy. His therapist urges Evan to write a letter to himself, which is then stolen from him by one of his tormenting bullies. When the bully later commits suicide and the letter found among his effects, it gives his parents the mistaken impression that the bully was Evan’s close friend, which out of compassion Evan doesn’t dispute – leading to consequences he couldn’t envision. A monument to the cruelty of our social media age.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Musical
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements involving suicide, brief strong language and some suggestive references)

Courageous Legacy

(Affirm) Alex Kendrick, Kevin Downes, Ben Davies, Rusty Martin. The re-release (with some additional footage) of one of the first faith-based movies to become a hit on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Faith-Based Drama
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: PG-13 (for some violence and drug content)

Love Story

(Sree Venkateswara) Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, Sai Pallavi, Uttej, Devayani. A boy and a girl move from their small village to the big city to pursue their dreams.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Romance
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary
Rating: NR

The Nowhere Inn

(IFC) St. Vincent, Carrie Brownstein, Dakota Johnson, Ezra Buzzington. When indie singer/songwriter St. Vincent enlists her friend Carrie Brownstein to make a documentary about her tour, things go wildly out of control. Cinema365 has already reviewed the film; a link may be found below under “SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED”.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Musical
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: NR

On Broadway

(Kino Lorber) Hugh Jackman, Helen Mirren, Christine Baranski, Alec Baldwin. As Broadway prepares to come back from an unprecedented 18-month layoff, stars of stage and screen recall the last time Broadway came back from the brink and how innovative thinking and the uneasy alliance of art and commerce helped change the face of musical theater forever.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: NR

Rumba Love

(Vision) Guillermo Iván, Zair Montes, Ed Trucco, Osvaldo de León. A rumba singer leaves Havana to pursue his dream in New York City – not to mention pursue the woman he loves. When his happiness seems to be unattainable, he must put all his faith into that dream in order to find out who he really is and what he really wants.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Musical
Now Playing: CMX Plaza Café Orlando
Rating: NR

Solitary

(Vertical) Johnny Sachon, Lottie Tolhurst, Michael Condron, Brian Bovell. A man wakes up in a small room with no memory of how he got there, discovering that he is in fact a convicted criminal being sent into space to start a new colony. To make matters worse, his cellmate is hell-bent on destroying everything – including him.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Apache Junction
Beyond Paranormal
(Tuesday)
Birds of Paradise
Man in the Field: The Life and Art of Jim Denevan
My Little Pony: A New Generation
On These Grounds
No One Gets Out Alive
(Wednesday)
The One You’re With
(Tuesday)
The Starling
Surge
This is the Year
Time is Up
The Toolbox Killer
(Thursday)
Venus as a Boy

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Bird of Paradise
Dear Evan Hansen
Man in the Field: The Life and Art of Jim Denevan
The Nowhere Inn
On Broadway
On These Grounds
The Starling
The Toolbox Killer