A dysfunctional family celebrating Passover is at the heart of Sal Litvak’s first film, “When Do We Eat?” What could have been a film set in the style of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which could have explored the typical Jewish family traditions at Passover, ends up being a confusing, insensitive, and disconnected view of this particular Jewish family at Passover.
The particular dysfunctional family includes Ira, the father who professes to be able to pull off the world’s fastest seder, Artur, Ira’s father and survivor of a concentration camp and Peggy, Ira’s second wife who wants to pull off the perfect seder. The children in the family include Jennifer, Ira’s oldest daughter who is a lesbian, Nikki, Ira’s youngest daughter who is a sex therapist, Ethan, Ira’s oldest son who is a businessman turned Chasid, Zeke, Ira’s middle son, who is a druggie; Lionel, Ira’s youngest son who suffers from autism. Vanessa, the sexy cousin who has an admiration for Ethan also attends the seder.
The story begins the day of the seder as Ira, who makes Christmas tree ornaments, calls his sons and daughters to see if any of them can pick up matzah for the seder. After making numerous calls, his oldest daughter’s female companion ends up bringing the matzah to the seder. Before the seder begins, Zeke, ends up slipping ecstasy into his father’s antacid medication as a form of rebellion against his father. What ensues is a seder unlike all seders that includes Ira’s mystical hallucinations/journey. Each member of the family tries to find peace and acceptance within the family in his/her own way. By the end of the seder, this dysfunctional family bonds together in a memorable way.
“When Do We Eat?” includes good performances by Michael Lerner as Ira, Leslie Ann Warren as Peggy, Jack Klugman as Artur, Mili Avital as Vanessa, Meredith Lynn Scott as Jennifer, and Shiri Appleby as Nikki. The cinematography was brilliantly shot by David Mullen. However, despite the promising cast and photography, the film falls short on many levels. Sal Litvak tries to bring in too many issues that make the film confusing and insensitive to its audience. What could have been a funny film, turned out to be a film full of arguments and tense unfunny and insensitive moments set against a setting that is supposed to be one of harmony and reflection.