Keeping Up with the Steins

DVD Reviews | Dec 19th, 2006

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Starring Jami Gertz, Daryl Hannah, Garry Marshall, Jeremy Piven, Doris Roberts, Daryl Sabara, Larry Miller, Cheryl Hines, and Richard Benjamin
Written By: Mark Zakarin
Directed By: Scott Marshall
Studio: Miramax
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I hated this movie. I really did. It wasn’t funny, was far too tame, didn’t establish characters, and most of all, took a concept that could have been really clever and made it stupid.

Obviously not everyone didn’t like it as much as I did. My grandparents thought it was hilarious. There were a couple of jokes that perhaps only us Jews might understand; I mean, I was there, with the whole preparing for the Bar Mitzvah thing, but that doesn’t mean I’ll love this film. But I guess it isn’t made for film snobs like me. It’s meant more for people like my grandparents.

Essentially, it’s a story about a kid (the one from Spy Kids) whose Bar Mitzvah is fast approaching, and his family begins to prepare for it. Already, there’s some kind of problem, but nobody’s really sure what it is. The kid is awkward and still nervous about his Torah portion, but as he narrates the film, we’re not really sure what the big deal is. All of his friends get Bar Mitzvah’d, so it’s not anything new. Just then he decides he should invite his estranged hippy grandfather (Garry Marshall as the only bright spot in the film) he has never met, because, for some reason, he wants to irritate his dad (Jeremy Piven), who is doing absolutely everything to make the best party ever.

I think what happened was there was a shift in the editing room. Doing some online investigating, the name was switched from Lucky 13 to Keeping Up With the Steins at some point; I wonder if the part wherein the competition between Bar Mitzvahs (we see the Stein one at the beginning) was added afterwards. Because even then, it’s pretty superfluous to the story, if there is one at all. Basically, it’s almost an educational film about how rich kids have Bar Mitzvahs, and while it seems to be all about how expensive the party is, it’s really about family. Except that if you’ve ever been to a Bar Mitzvah, you know that they’re really about the bling.

My biggest problem with it was that it just wasn’t very funny. Piven plays pretty much the same character he does on Entourage that is, a short-tempered talent agent but he doesn’t so much as say darn’ through the whole film. Garry Marshall is relatively funny as an altacacker-turned-hippie, but even then, the whole free-love thing wore thin after about two minutes. Most of the time, the characters were not fully established, and so most of all, there was no sympathy for any of the characters. The main kid, especially, was obnoxious and really had no depth.

Bottom line is this is a gift for your Jewish grandparents. If you’re not Jewish or enjoy films with purpose or actual humour, you won’t like this. And if you do, please tell me what was funny about it. Because I guess I missed the punchline.

-deleted scenes
-behind the scenes
-commentary with director Scott Marshall and writer Mark Zakarin
-father and son commentary with Scott Marshall and Garry Marshall (aww)

-5.1 surround

-widescreen (1.85:1)

-French, Spanish

Favorite Scenes: Garry Marshall was pleasant enough, and the Im king of the Torah-Titanic reference made me chortle slightly
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 99 minutes
Extras Rating:
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