The Bar Mitzvah Boy is not quite classified as a film, more as a play, though it is worthy of film status in my view. It is a very comical look at the dynamics of a British Jewish family on the eve of their son's Bar Mitzvah.
The film was written by Jack Rosenthal (Jewish, and husband of popular British comedienne, Maureen Lipman) and obviously aimed at an audience of British Jews. I'm no racist, but the nature of the humour is such that only those with an intimate knowledge of the way a Jewish family works can gain full enjoyment from it. Every character is a hilarious caricature, instantly recognisable as a Jewish stereotype, with Maria Charles' Rita stealing the show as the highly-strung mother.
However, Rosenthal's humour can be enjoyed on all levels, from the one-liners delivered with perfect sincerity down to the subtleties such as the relationships between the sister and her boyfriend and between the rabbi and the synagogue caretaker. The film is incredibly detailed, even in the conduction of the synagogue service, recitation of the Hebrew and liberal use of Yiddish idioms. Of all the Hollywood blockbusters I have seen, none could be more detailed than this simple, low-budget production.
My father and I both find The Bar Mitzvah Boy hilarious, and an amazingly accurate, yet hilarious take on the Anglo-Jewish way of life, despite its age.
As I say, non-Jews would probably find it mildly amusing, but anyone brought up Jewish in middle England in the 20th Century, especially those of us who have had a Bar Mitzvah ourselves, will be in stitches at regular intervals!
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