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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Keeping Up With The Steins

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Judy Thorburn

Keeping Up With The Steins

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

"KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS" - AKA MY BIG FAT JEWISH BAR MITZVAH

What we have here is a comedy about a young boy and the family dynamics surrounding his upcoming Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ritual celebrating a 13-year-old boy’s initiation into manhood. For Benjamin Fiedler (Daryl Sabara of Spy Kids) that means only the best party that money can buy, or as his dad Adam, a wealthy Hollywood agent puts it “the biggest bar mitzvah in the history of bar mitzvahs”.

Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven, Daryl Hannah, Gary K. Marshall, Cheryl Hines, Daryl Sabarra, The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

You see the Fiedlers, Adam, wife Joanne (Jami Gertz) and son Benji reside in the very upscale section of Brentwood, California where for them it doesn’t mean keeping up with the Jones. It’s the Stein’s, specifically Arnie Stein (Larry Miller), Adam’s former business partner, turned arch rival that Adam wants to one up, never mind keep up with after attending the spectacular, over the top Titanic themed Bar Mitzvah Arnie threw for his son on a cruise ship that included a yarmulke wearing killer whale jumping through a Star of David, and hiring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet look-alikes.

Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven, Daryl Hannah, Gary K. Marshall, Cheryl Hines, Daryl Sabarra, The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

The problem is Benji couldn’t care less about all the fuss and grandeur and is fearful about the upcoming time when he must recite from the Torah in front of an audience. So secretly inviting his estranged grandfather, that he has never met, seems like a good idea to distract his father who is obsessed with planning out his rental of Dodger Stadium for a baseball themed bar mitzvah bash. What Benji doesn’t realize is that the early arrival of free spirited, ponytailed grandpa Irwin (Garry Marshall) and his hippie girlfriend Sandy, aka Sacred Feather (Darryl) Hannah) will open old wounds for Adam who feels resentment, anger and pain towards his father who abandoned him and his mom Rose (Doris Roberts) 26 years ago. While Irwin’s visit appears to throw everything into a tizzy, his unexpected, influence on Benji has a far more positive affect.

Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven, Daryl Hannah, Gary K. Marshall, Cheryl Hines, Daryl Sabarra, The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Forget the Steins. The focal point turns out to be the Fiedler family dynamics with Garry Marshall as grandpa taking center stage. Not Jewish in real life, you would never know it, as he is a natural to play the part. Marshall has great comic timing, and most of the humor revolves around his shenanigans and funny one-liners. Marshall’s casting is no surprise since the first time director happens to be his son Scott, who does an admirable job. But it is Jeremy Piven, with his very expressive face and mannerisms that hits a perfect chord as the overcompensating Dad with issues. He and Jami Gertz, who keeps it real as the supportive, understanding wife and mother, are a well suited match and thankfully, not at all cartoonish.

Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven, Daryl Hannah, Gary K. Marshall, Cheryl Hines, Daryl Sabarra, The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Preparations for the Bar Mitzvah that entail a party planner (Cheryl Hines of Curb Your Enthusiasm), Hebrew school classes, conversations with the Rabbi (Richard Benjamin) and Benji’s crush on a shallow, curly haired young blonde are plot devices that move the story along and figure into Benji’s transformation into manhood. But, when it is all said and done, what’s most important is the message of family reconciliation and values over money.

Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven, Daryl Hannah, Gary K. Marshall, Cheryl Hines, Daryl Sabarra, The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate Keeping Up With The Steins, although I expect the initial audience to be limited to mostly Jewish families who will enjoy hearing the many Yiddish expressions that are integrated into the dialogue. But, the essence of the film, problems within this dysfunctional family and the personality conflicts and neuroses are universal and word of mouth could make it a surprise hit.

Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven, Daryl Hannah, Gary K. Marshall, Cheryl Hines, Daryl Sabarra, The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Keeping Up With The Steins is a charming little satirical comedy that pokes fun at rich Jewish families, similar to the way Greeks were portrayed in My Big Fat Jewish wedding, with good-natured humor and a fine leading cast. Originally titled Lucky 13, I hope that proves to be true in terms of reaching a wider range of moviegoers who will find this to be a family friendly film, rather entertaining film if they only give it a try.

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