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Keeping Up With the Steins (PG-13)

Release Date: May 12th, 2006 by Miramax Films.
The Cast: Daryl Sabara, Jeremy Piven, Garry Marshall, Jami Gertz, Daryl Hannah, Doris Roberts, Cheryl Hines, Charter Jenkins.
Directed by Scott Marshall.

BASIC PREMISE: 13-year-old Ben (Sabara) invites his quirky grandfather (Marshall) two weeks before his Bar Mitzvah.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This delightful comedy has few surprises, but still remains thoroughly entertaining thanks to its great, energetic cast and a funny script. The Fiedler family wants to make a Bar Mitzvah for their son Ben which would be better than the Stein familyís Bar Mitzvah for their son, Zach (Jenkins). To complicate matters, Ben changes, his grandfather, Irwinís invitation so that he arrives two weeks early. Once Irwin arrives with his much younger girlfriend (Hannah), hilarity ensues. Garry Marshall gives a hilarious performance as Irwin and steals every one of his scenes. Much of the humor derives from the conflict between him and his son Adam (Piven) who havenít spoken to each other for many years. Soon enough, Irwin goes skinny dipping in the backyard hot tub and nonchalantly steps out of it butt-naked. Does Irwin really need to show his buttocks? As you can imagine, itís not a pretty sight. The conflict gets worse when Doris, Adamís mother and Irwinís ex-wife, shows up. Director Scott Marshall keeps the film moving at a fast, breezy pace. Screenwriter Mark Zakarin includes plenty of Jewish jokes mixed with some juvenile humor, but without going overboard. Fortunately, the well-written script allows Fiedlers to be believable and likeable as a family without the use of excessive, shocking stereotypes like in When Do We Eat?. Although the third act looses a little comic steam, it still remains a lively, charming and engaging film.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Benís upcoming Bar Mitzvah represents a pinnacle moment in his adolescence when he must face maturity. However, in reality, growing up isnít easy. At least Ben can rely on his grandfather for advice and gain some self-confidence for a change. Overall, the uplifting message is the importance of a family to stick together and bond, no matter how odd and stubborn its members are.



IN A NUTSHELL: A delightfully charming film. Garry Marshall is hilarious. Itís My Big Fat Jewish Bar Mitzvah!
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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