The Magnificent Meyersons
Reviewed for Shockya.com by Abe Friedtanzer
Director: Evan Oppenheimer
Writer: Evan Oppenheimer
Cast: Kate Mulgrew, Richard Kind, Shoshannah Stern, Neal Huff, Daniel Eric Gold and Lauren Ridloff Screened at: Critics’ link, LA, 8/17/21
Opens: August 20th, 2021
Every family has its quirks. How it manifests and affects its members depends heavily on any number of factors, including size, wealth, geography, and religion. Not all relatives may behave the same way or feel the same sense of attachment to one another, alternatively anchored or burdened by the strength of the relationship they have with their kin. That dynamic surely changes as children become adults, but roles may be also modified and switched as the same drama passes down from generation to generation. This is the general premise of The Magnificent Meyersons, an offbeat look at a Jewish family over the course of a short period of time in New York City.
An introduction shows young children spending time with their parents, Terri (Kate Mulgrew), an oncologist, and Morty (Richard Kind), who, years later, is not present in his family’s lives. All the grown children have careers: Daphne (Jackie Burns) is a publisher, Roland (Ian Kahn) works in business, Daniel (Daniel Eric Gold) is a rabbinical student, and Susie (Shoshannah Stern) is a real estate agent. As they go about their days, they contemplate the direction their futures are going in, a concept disrupted by the apparent confirmation of the existence of aliens.
This film is oddly specific for the generality of its story, one that could have been easily applied to almost any ethnic group. The occasional “oy” is uttered and there are a few distinctly Jewish references, but otherwise this film is mainly about anxious people trying to come to terms with the unresolved issues that plague them and, as far as they can tell, will never go away. Daniel in particular is meant to be the one most actively interested in his Judaism, yet he expresses virtually no connection to his religion and instead shares most of his scenes with a priest (Neal Huff) whose wisdom he seems to hold in higher regard than any of the texts he’s meant to be studying at school.
Despite its questionable construction, there are worthwhile characters embedded within this messy story. In her first scene, Daphne accuses her husband of cheating on her because she dreamt it the night before, and the effect that has on their relationship is surprisingly poignant. Susie gets two equally strong storylines, one that finds her pushing a client couple to go with her own breakaway firm and the other that explores her romantic relationship with Tammy (Lauren Ridloff), which is fully captioned because both actresses and characters are Deaf.
Roland’s story is less interesting, though his conversations with a colleague are indicative of this film’s general tone. They’re reminiscent of Woody Allen’s timeless picture of New York, as Roland gripes about the political correctness of the present that has made all that used to be simple no longer possible without intense scrutiny. Yet the mere nature of that dialogue and the way the film is shot hark back to another time, one that gives little credence to cell phones and incorporates forms of communication and in-person meetings that are all too rare at this moment.
There is a sense of nostalgia to be found here and familiar tropes that can likely be related to by all embedded somewhere within the four Meyerson children or their matriarch, whose plotline is least engaging and gives the fantastic Mulgrew virtually nothing to do. Everyone believes their family is special and unique, and to a degree, that’s true, but there is nothing magnificent or all that enthralling about the Meyersons. It does contain several good characters and storylines who would be much better served in an altogether different movie.
Story – B-
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – B-