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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated December 18, 2014 - Editions No 928, 929, 930, 931 

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KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS

SYNOPSIS:
When the Steins, (Larry Miller, Sandra Taylor) put on a blockbuster Bar Mitzvah for their son Zach (Carter Jenkins), Adam Fiedler (Jeremy Piven) - a business competitor - feels bound to not merely keep up with but surpass the Steins' extravagance with the upcoming Bar Mitzvah for his son Benjamin (Darly Sabra). Benjamin's not at all sure about the big plans until he realizes that perhaps this could be the occasion to reconcile his still angry dad and his estranged grandfather Irwin (Garry Matshall), who abandoned his dad and his grandma Rose, Doris Roberts) over 20 years earlier.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Mark Zakarin's entertaining script manages to fuse the warm and fuzzy family comedy with the not too subtle satire as he takes shots at the one upmanship of Bar Mitzvahs 'in certain neighbourhoods' - like the one where the Steins and the Fielders live. As Benjamin (Daryl Sabra) starts to narrate the story of what happened before and at his own Bar Mitzvah, a huge passenger lines floats into view, its bow bearing a giant sign proclaiming the Steins' boy's Bar Mitzvah (which is a Titanic themed on board spectacular). The jokey tone is well maintained, and the serious stuff that the subject touches on is all handled with a brief but earnest touch.

The tone is all important because there are several opportunities for fakery, where self indulgence would undermine the comedic plans of the filmmakers. For example, grandpa Irwin comes out of the reservation where he has a gentle teaching job, in the company of vegan earth-linked beauty, Darryl Hanna, whose adopted name is Sacred Feather. This pairing has the potential to derail the movie into different directions, but that doesn't happen.

Disciplined direction also helps when it comes to Benjamin's journey, from insecure nerd to self confident young man. Excellent performances from Sabra as Ben, Jeremy Piven as his grumpy dad, Garry Marshall as the contrite grandpa - not to mention Doris Roberts as the forgiving grandma - all help to make the film entertaining on all three levels: as Jewish comedy, as Jewish satire and as universal comedy.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS (PG)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Jeremy Piven, Jami Gertz, Garry Marshall, Daryl Hannah, Daryl Sabara, Doris Roberts, Larry Miller, Cheryl Hines, Richard Benjamin

PRODUCER: A. D. Oppenheim, David Scharf, Mark Zakarin

DIRECTOR: Scott Marshall

SCRIPT: Mark Zakarin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles Minsky

EDITOR: Tara Timpone

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John DeMeo

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Champion Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne, Sydney, Perth: November 2, 2006; Gold Coast: November 16, 2006; Other states to follow

UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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