Keeping Up with Bar Mitzvahs

Who hasn’t been to a bar or bat mitzvah party and said, “I wish I could have a party like that!” or “Can you believe what he/she had at the party?” Statements like those have prompted some parents to try to match or outdo bar/bat mitzvah parties from their friends and family in all major cities in America. What entails could be a comic series of events and the perfect premise for a comedy film. Scott Marshall, the son of Gary Marshall (Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, etc.), runs with this premise in the light hearted comedy, “Keeping Up with the Steins.”

Instead of setting the storyline in New York City, Scott Marshall sets his movie in Hollywood – a perfect location to show the outlandish reaches that some people go to in order to impress their neighbors and friends. At the heart of the story is the Fiedler family. Adam Fielder, played by Jeremy Piven (Entourage), is a Hollywood agent, and uses his agent mentality in order to make a party for his son that is more lavish than his competitor – the Steins. This is a tall order to follow since the Steins threw a “Titanic” theme party including a guest appearance by Shamu.

While Adam has his heart on crushing the competition, his son, Benjamin, played by Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids) wants to have nothing to do with this bar mitzvah game that his father is playing. Instead, he searches for his own meaning of the bar mitzvah ritual and tries to reunite his father with his grandfather, played by Gary Marshall. Despite being only twelve, Benjamin shows more maturity then some of the men in his life.

“Keeping Up with the Steins” tries to expose audiences to a comic take on the supersizing the bar/bat mitzvah ritual. However, while amusing at times, especially during the bar mitzvah sequences, the film is more dramatic than comical. The performances are well acted led by Piven, Sabara, and Jami Gertz, who plays Adam’s wife, despite dialog, that at times, seems a bit unrealistic (too many uses and references to the word “Jewish”). Despite the shortcomings, the film, as a whole, is worth a view, just to keep up with, laugh at, and perhaps take a step back from going “Stein-crazy” with the bar/bat mitzvah party.

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