Keeping Up with the Steins (2006) Poster

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10/10
Hilarious Film!
coleal211 May 2006
Great movie!! I was in a bad mood all day until I saw this movie. It made my day!! From the audience's responses, it made their day, too! I found Jeremy Piven's performance to be in line with his usual comedic excellence. When it comes to comedy, Jeremy is king. Excellent performances from other cast is definitely worth noting. Even though I'm not Jewish, I found the film totally entertaining. This film is more than slap stick comedy woven into a worn out display of one-liners. The characters are not static, and there is a serious current underlying the funny moments. It's a redemptive story about family being more important than money--in grand style. Good job, guys!
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2/10
not worth it
gw002m24 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
So I saw this movie, not really knowing what it was about, and even then I was disappointed.

First off, a lot of what they do relating to the actual bar mitzvah is simply wrong. but okay, i can get over that.

I just feel like this movie had potential (and honestly there were a bunch of funny parts, it may have been funnier because I am Jewish, but there were many funny parts), but fell flat.

The movie, like another commenter said, has nothing to do with the Steins. They call it "Keeping Up with the Steins", open up with a Stein bar mitzvah, then ignore them for the entire movie until the very end. You can't suddenly try to add a plot at the end of the movie... it doesn't work.

Further, no one would possibly let the father do what he did. The wife, the kid, ANYONE ELSE would have said something. How about "get over it, this day is about your son, deal with your issues later." The day of the bar mitzvah is not the time to let that happen.

Also, someone rediscovering Judaism, learning his Haftarah, and doing all that other stuff in less than a week? It's just too ridiculous.

I agree with other posters... it had potential, but the characters were not developed well, the plot tried to do too much but then simply ignored the sub-plots (how about sacred feather and the cameraman? We're going to have him make passes at her like 3 times then never bring it up) it tried to create. Parts were funny, but the entire second half dragged to the point of becoming unbearable. I'd skip this one.
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7/10
Interesting Things...
mcgee446815 May 2006
Interesting thing about having seen 'Keeping Up with the Steins' on a Sunday at Fallbrook in the Valley - there was a fieldtrip of some school that had seen fit to come see the film as a group, then hold a sort of Q&A in the lobby. Ages of the folks in attendance ranged from 12 to about 60 and over. I love being in a full theatre when going to a film, particularly a comedy as you'll get laughs out of people that become infectious and actually make seeing the film that much better of an experience.

Another interesting thing about the 'Steins' film: while Jeremy Piven and the young hero of the film are the driving characters, the lasting memories of a film-goer actually belong to Gary Marshall & Doris Roberts. The backstory of their relationship, how it affected Piven, and how they've let by-gones be by-gones while Piven clutches to his old grudges is beautifully and deftly handled by the director. Marshall delivers the father figure as likable to an audience as the characters he created on network television back in the 70's.

One more interesting thing about the 'Steins': you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate the humor, you just have to recognize the strengths and failings of every human being represented in these characters.
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4/10
Maybe Better on the Small Screen?
Bob24 June 2006
This is a coming-of-age story with a twist. There is more than one person coming-of-age.

In a nutshell, it is the story of an angst-ridden thirteen year old boy whose troubles are doubled by his pending bar mitzvah.

His father (Jeremy Piven) is a Hollywood agent intent on turning the bar mitzvah into a recruiting event to keep and grow his client base. This is complicated when his former partner, played by Larry Miller, throws a mega bar mitzvah for his own son, with the same intention in mind.

Piven's angst at creating the perfect bar mitzvah/recruitment event is made worse by the arrival of his hippy-like father (Gary Marshall), who is attached to an early 40-something New Ager (Daryl Hannah) and teaching English to children on the Navajo reservation. I guess it's supposed to be funny, just looking at Marshall and Hannah. Marshall's and Piven's characters are estranged, the father having walked out on Piven and his mother (Doris Roberts) 26 years earlier.

We have an angst-ridden triangle between the three men: grandfather, father, and grandson. (The trinity in a Jewish story?) Indeed, the only struggles in the story are between men. The men have no plot difficulties or unresolved issues with the women, or the women with each other. Frankly, there is no way men can have unresolved issues and not emotionally involve the women in their lives. It's just not realistic, not even in a satirical sense.

I gave this film a "4" because of the story. It has a significant flaw. There is just no moment when I felt a human connection with the three men. I was shown all the events that led to the all-important climax, and then I felt nothing. It was like discovering I had swallowed a Chicklet instead of Viagra. No emotion. No "ah ha!" moment. I was more concerned that there wasn't enough butter on my popcorn. And because I felt no emotional connection with or between the three men, I did not feel their catharsis. And that's a real problem for a coming-of-age film. There were a few nice moments between the grandfather and grandson, but that was it.

Not good.

Regardless of what several "mainstream press" critics wrote and to the writer's and director's credit, I didn't see one stereotype. There were a few undeveloped characters, caricatures really, but that, too, is the fault of the storytellers— it's lazy, not malicious.

Why it happened this way, I have no idea. Maybe they were forced to cut the film strangely or leave out things they wanted put in, due to money constraints. It just doesn't work.

The acting was fine, featuring some of the best actors on television today. That made it marginally watchable. Maybe television is where this film should have been sold. I see this as a Starz film. Not quite HBO or Showtime material. IFC or Sundance will be its home in about six months.

I counsel the writer and director to learn from this experience. You have to flesh out your characters more and let us in on their inner struggles. Don't tell us. Show us. That's what makes drama and comedy work, especially on film. Make us as tense as the characters appear because of the conflicts within the situation, and then resolve the audience's and characters' tensions at the same time. To paraphrase Woody Allen, if it's a comedy, make us bend with the character; if it's a drama, make us break.

For example, don't match Richard Benjamin's Bill-O'Reilly-loving rabbi character with Marshall's tolerant grandfather, and do nothing with it. That could have been some very funny stuff as the two men synthesize their worldviews. Instead… pffft. Nothing.

And finally, have a bigger theme— something the audience can sink its teeth into. I'm still not quite sure what it is. (And I won't venture a guess, because I don't want to spoil the ending for anybody.) Go back and watch how Chaplin created and then unknotted tension in "City Lights", how Sam Woods did it in "A Night at the Opera", how Marshall did it in "The Flamingo Kid" (another coming-of-age story), or even how it's done in the simplest episode of Piven's "Entourage". Have somebody check the treatment and script thoroughly for theme, conflict and catharsis. Then try it again.

I don't want this to sound angry or mean-spirited. But the situation within the film was just lousy with potential for a better film. It was all wasted. And that's a shame.
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10/10
A Little Wonderful Gem of a Movie
castleb717 June 2006
We saw this in a small art house movie and I gotta tell you, they should make a heck of a lot more movies like "Keeping Up With the Steins" than the big block-buster movies which everybody sees and are basically wastes of time. This is a wonderful movie, tasteful in every aspect. You find yourself smiling throughout the 1 1/2 hour movie. My only negative is that I wish it were longer! It is not a knee slapping kind of comedy even though two or three times I laughed at loud. How I wish Hollywood would stand up and take notice about this kind of film. To me, this is the standout of the season so far. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this film, but as they say, "it couldn't hurt!" Run - don't walk to see this film. My rating - EXCELLENT!!
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5/10
Kept checking my watch every 10 minutes
dallas_viewer2 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This *seemed* like such a good idea.

While most Jewish parents try to give their kids a nice bar/bat mitzvah--because this is such an important event in an observant Jew's life--there are a few who go to extremes, as exemplified by Zachary Stein's parents at the beginning of the film. Let me reiterate that parents like these, who spend obscene amounts of money on their child's b'nai mitzvah trappings, rather than keeping the affair modest and more focused on the spiritual aspect, are the exception and not the rule.

I was hoping that the movie would be a wry, yet amusing look at the process of Bar Mitzvah one-upsmanship, with the rival family (or families) realizing in the end that what is really important is what the Bar Mitzvah symbolizes, and not how lavish an affair it is. (Kind of a Jewish version of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," perhaps?) Unfortunately, as a few others have pointed out, most of the movie is not inspired or amusing, nor does it stay focused on the fascinating issue of one-upsmanship. Rather, it seems to end up centering largely on the unfunny Garry Marshall character, Irwin Fiedler (the Bar Mitzvah boy's grandfather).

Turns out Grandpa Fiedler ditched his family years ago--it's not clear if he ever paid child support, but it's a safe bet he didn't, seeing as how he couldn't seem to earn money back then, a major bone of contention in his marriage to Grandma Fiedler--and his son (the Bar Mitzvah boy's father, Adam, played by Jeremy Piven) remains resentful about having been abandoned.

The movie, IMHO, tries to drum up a bit of sympathy for Grandpa Irwin, portraying him as a good, decent guy in several uninspired scenes where he helps his grandson. In an effort to justify a possible reconciliation between Irwin and his estranged son, the movie even seems to make an effort to downplay the seriousness of Irwin's abandonment of his family--after all, as Grandma Fiedler points out, they *both* made mistakes in their marriage, and as Irwin tells his son, "Haven't you ever made a big mistake you couldn't fix?"

I didn't buy it. I never found Irwin Fiedler to be likable. Moreover, I couldn't help feeling that while Grandma may have made mistakes in the marriage, too, and while Adam may have made fatal mistakes with his clients, Irwin's mistakes were (1) not liking his work, a feeling which took precedence over feeding his young family, and (2) abandoning his family. How in any way can one minimize this colossal selfishness? How can these mistakes be compared to a few mistakes Adam may have made with his clients? And whatever Grandma Fiedler's mistakes may have been, she didn't just up and abandon her family. The movie never properly addressed this important topic, IMO; instead, it aimed for a more light-hearted treatment of the issue, in keeping with the overall trite and shallow tone of the script.

Something else about the script that bugged: A number of times, when someone used a Yiddish or Hebrew word ("mensch", for example), it seemed that there was either a tiny pause before and after the word, or else it was a bit louder, or a little over-enunciated. As though the writers or director thought that--maybe for the benefit of the non-Jews in the audience?--all of these words must be Spoken. Very. Clearly. And. Distinctly. Unfortunately, this made me feel that the foreign words were almost an afterthought--as though the writer went back over the script, looking for places to insert quaint little Yiddish expressions ("How about I add the word "mishigas" to this line of Irwin's here?") An effort to give this film a more "Jewish" flavor, I guess. But it seemed a clumsy device, to me.

Finally, let me just add that I could not suspend disbelief enough to buy Darryl Hannah as a love interest for the geriatric, not-much-going-for-him Irwin Fiedler. I can only wonder if Casting was given specific instructions on what type of love interest would be acceptable to Mr. Marshall.

Whatev.

Were there any bright spots in this trite production? Yes--Jami Gertz was delightful as the Bar Mitzvah boy's mother. And the opening sequence, with Zachary Stein's Bar Mitzvah, was a hoot.

Given the general lack of depth in this film, and the number of rather juvenile plot devices (such as when Benjamin is at the Bima to deliver his Haftorah, and he deals with his stage fright), I'd guess that this film may well appeal to teens, with the ideal target audience (given the Bar Mitzvah-related subject matter) being Jewish teens.
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10/10
This is a wonderful movie going experience
shel2316 May 2006
Keeping up with the steins is the type of movie that studios can be proud to release to the public. The acting is great, the script is well written, there is nothing bad about this movie. The lessons to be learned from this story are such that everyone viewing this movie can take something from it. I applaud the actors, the writers, the directors, and the production company who have placed a small gem on the market. This will not be a big market high grossing film, but if what you want is true entertainment and a feel good movie do not miss this. The large companies should produce a lot more movies like this one.
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6/10
Thaddaus Hill: Hey, I'm running too!
freakfire-13 September 2008
Ah, how is it like to "keep up with the Steins"? The answer is that it is much like keeping up with the Joneses, except this competition is more Jewish. Well, if you call attempts at reading Hebrew "Jewish".

The Fiedlers are trying to one-up the Steins post-Bar Mitzvah party. Their son doesn't much want it, but instead wants to see the grandfather he didn't know. Combine that with the fact that his dad doesn't like grandpa for an obvious reason leads to an interesting confrontation.

There are a few funny things. Yes there is nudity, but not many people go for old man nudity in a pool. Also his cane is a nice addition because of its usefulness with annoying drivers.

The downside is that is comes off like a quasi-false documentary. While that is nice, knowing the soon-to-be man's thoughts, it doesn't play out too much further.

Overall, it had some entertainment value. "C+"
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7/10
Its a JEW thing
Mab89014 May 2006
Look, I am 18 and Jewish. I saw this with 2 of my closest also Jewish friends. Of the three only one of us had a barmitzva. But none the less I am convinced that you will find this movie funny if you are Jewish. This was the conclusion my friends and I came up with. This movie has a target audience, and that is the audience that to any extent of the way can relate to it. Its a little slow and at some times feels as if you are missing a scene. Nevertheless the jokes are there, and I did laugh. As a coming of age story I would give it a 5 but as a Jewish comedy I would give it a 9, so that brings us to a seven. Jermey is funny as always and a couple camio roles that I don't wish to reveal really brings the whole movie together and at the same time has you brawling in your seats.
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7/10
Becoming a man
jotix10017 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The idea of young boy arriving at the age where he is considered a man is celebrated traditionally by Jews. In this age of consumerism, most 13 year old boys are given lavish feasts in which expense seems to be no object by parents that have the means to do so. The feasts evidently must have a theme. When we first meet the people in this mildly funny movie, they are in the middle of a bar mitzvah with a Titanic theme. We watch as the young boy arrives in a replica of a ship posing as Leonardo DeCaprio and even colliding with an iceberg. This party cost about half a million dollars to Arnie Stein, a Hollywood type that can well afford it.

As Benjamin's own bar mitzvah approaches, his parents, Adam and Joanne Fiedler must make a decision about how big a party they want, and what theme will their son choose. Benjamin, who appears more grounded than his Hollywood agent's father, only wants to have his paternal grandfather, a person he has never met, at the party. Benjamin plays a trick by sending Irwin Fidler an invitation with a date of two weeks before the actual event. Little prepares him for the character his grandfather turns out to be.

Irwin, who left his family when Adam at a young age, comes to town with his New Age-type girlfriend, who goes by the name of Saved Feather, to stay at his son's mansion. This brings back bad emotions Adam has kept bottled inside him. He can't forgive his father for what he, and his mother Rose, had to endure. The old man is a changed man and his love for his newly found family serves to get Adam's forgiveness.

Scott Marshall, the director, who is the son of Garry Marshall, follows in his own father's foot steps and finds his way into this ethnic comedy that shows how people must compete with one another to show who is the one giving the best and most elaborate party, something that probably the children feel too overwhelmed, as it's the case with Benjamin. The film points out to basic problems in our society in which we must outdo our friends, and even our own family, in order to prove we are superior, or just to prove we have more money than they.

Garry Marshall steals the show with his Irwin. Mr. Marshall knows comedy well and knows what buttons to press to put the audience in his pockets. Doris Roberts is tremendously appealing as Rose, the wife that has had to endure a lot after Irwin left her. Jeremy Piven and Jamie Gertz are perfect as the parents facing a dilemma about to go broke in order to keep up with the Steins. Daryl Sabara is an excellent actor who shows he knows what he is doing. Daryl Hannah has some good moments as the evolved New Ager. Larry Miller and Richard Benjamin are seen in supporting roles.

Much has been said about this comedy as far as being targeted to Jews, but in our experience, not being Jewish, we found it speaks a universal language and people of other backgrounds will enjoy it as well.
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8/10
Keeping Up with the Fielders!
Syl10 December 2010
The Steins had an over the top Titanic themed Bar Mitzvah for their son. In this film, Ben Fielder is studying for his Bar Mitzvah in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. His father is played by Jeremy Piven and his mother is played by Jami Getz. His paternal grandmother is played by the wonderful Doris Roberts and his paternal grandfather is played by Garry Marshall who is just as wonderful. His grandfather left his son and wife for another life where he teaches on the Navajo Indian reservation in New Mexico with his new younger girlfriend played by Daryl Hannah. Everybody is perfectly cast in this film. This film should have aired on television than in cinema. Anyway, the story about the coming of age and how unconventional grandfather relates to his conventional son and his family is worth watching. I enjoyed the film and would love to see it again. I saw it on television last weekend and I liked it.
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3/10
WHY was a film like this ever made?
asc8522 May 2006
I am Jewish, and saw this with a Non-Jewish friend. Neither of us thought this was any good. I wasn't offended by any of the humor...there just wasn't any. It wasn't funny. Garry Marshall clearly must have called in a lot of favors to get this film made for his son, as we see Darryl Hannah, Richard Benjamin, and Neil Diamond being dragged into this eminently forgettable film.

The plot was alternately clichéd and incredibly unrealistic. The only positives I'll give to this movie are:

1. Jami Gertz - Absolutely perfect as the Jewish mother. My friend's wife is exactly the same.

2. Former Penthouse/Playboy model Sandra Taylor is actually quite good in a supporting role as the "trophy" Mrs. Stein. She hasn't acted in awhile, and certainly not in a film like this. And she actually gets on the cover of the movie poster too! I doubt she's going to be the next Diane Lane, but I do think this role will deservedly give her career a shot in the arm.
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10/10
Terrific "lesson" movie
karlaober22 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It was refreshing to see a movie where a kid leads his family (with the help of his wayward grandpa) to care more about values than ostentatious display. His bar mitzvah really did become his coming of (religious) age ceremony, not just a preliminary to an over-the-top party. He learned to care more about being good than feeling good. Yes, there were stereotypes, and yes, I'd like it more if the family appeared to be more interested in their religion than just "getting their kid through" the ceremony. However, this movie did show the kid "Benjamin" as a dynamic character who did grow and change for the better. All bar and bat mitzvah students and their families should be required to view this movie prior to making any bar/bat mitzvah plans! Basically, there was no cussing, sex, or violence to mar this nice piece of family entertainment.
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10/10
If you are Jewish or not...it is like our version of Big Greek wedding
jessie-3914 May 2006
We start all of our reviews with the following information. My wife and I have seen nearly 100 movies per year for the past 15 years. Recently, we were honored by receiving lifetime movie passes to any movie any time at no cost! So we can see whatever we want whenever we want. The point of this is that CRITICS count for ZERO. Your local critics or the national critics like Ebert are really no different than you or me. The only difference is that they get to write about the movie and are forced to see hundreds of movies whether they want to or not.Therefore, it is our belief that if you get your monies worth for two hours of enjoyment that is good enough for us! We NEVER EVER listen or read the critics. We only care about our friends and those who we know like the same things as us. Well enough about that.

It is the Jewish version of My big fat Greek wedding. It is hilarious and will play very well in NY, Los Angeles and in all the communities where Jewish people live. But, remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding did $245 million dollars because it was so very funny. This movie is so much like it and very very funny.
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Unsacred Feather
tedg10 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Suppose you are a fairly powerful man in TeeVee, and have some standing in the movie world. Suppose also that you have been a poor father to a son that is fairly incompetent at life. He wants to become a filmmaker, and you have big ideas for him that work against his abilities. You eventually settle for a small film with an extremely simple message.

So what is the film about? A fairly powerful man in the entertainment (read: movie) business, who has been a poor father to a son that is fairly incompetent at life. The "films" in this story are bar mitzvah parties, and the one we are competing with is (no fooling) "Titanic." You'll insert yourself as the apologetic grandfather, newly full of wisdom about the meaning of life (because of experience on an Indian reservation). The story? Well it will be about making small but honest films instead of huge, competitive ones with no soul.

Actually, I find this nesting-folding interesting as all getout. Its too bad that this movie doesn't even have a single element that is done well. So where the kid on screen has a success to beaming parents and grandparents, the kid who directed this must have come out damaged. Sometimes, help isn't help I think.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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8/10
Keeping Up With the Steins-A Return to Basic Jewish Bar Mitzvahs***
edwagreen7 November 2006
This comedy hits it right on the head detailing that the idea of the Bar Mitzvah in the Jewish religion has been long-lost. Rather, it has become the elaborate parties that families engage in to outdo one another.

Such as the case with this film. In addition to the obvious plot, we are subjected to an estranged relationship by a father's abandonment of his family 26 years before and his attempt to reestablish a relationship with his bitter son at the time of his grandson's Bar Mitzvah celebration.

Nice seeing Richard Benjamin back in films after many years behind the camera. His role as the rabbi is brief but to the point.

Gary Marshall steals the film as the grandfather and should be Oscar nominated in the supporting category. Doris Roberts, wonderful as always, plays the understanding grandmother. She is willing to admit that she was to blame as well for her husband abandoning the family years before. Ms. Roberts seems to be comfortable in Jewish related theme films as is evident by the television rendition of "The Diary of Anne Frank," the television film "Yiddish," with Harold Gould and the 1975 film "Hester Street" with Carol Kane. She is continuing down the path of the late Shelley Winters.

A film for all which shows what religion should be all about.
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8/10
Very funny
Jessy Bequette11 June 2006
I went to this movie not knowing what to expect. I in fact enjoyed it very much. It was hilarious. Even though it is about Jews you won't have to be one to laugh. There were only a few jokes that you'd need a background to understand. The movie is about a boy about to have a bar mitzvah and his internal struggles he goes through. It deals with the fact that sometimes traditions start being done just to do them without a thought about why they are being done. This is true of ALL kinds of traditions - religious, cultural, etc. Keeping Up With the Steins deals touches on that and the kid's father trying to out do his neighbors and prove he's doing better than those who failed him in his life. The actors were pretty descent - I absolutely love the short scene with Adam Goldberg. Daryl Sabara did a great job too. He's very adorable.
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4/10
Sweet, Sentimental (but not overly so) Depiction of Becoming A Man in the Jewish Culture
Elswet28 April 2007
This was a quaint, sweet movie depicting a boy struggling with his impending manhood. There isn't much more you can say about the plot, than that.

The performances here are better than adequate, and the direction seems competent enough, but the truth be told, this movie doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a comedy, a drama, or some uneven measure of both. It is not as bad as that statement may make it seem, however, as it is entertaining, if only mildly so.

All in all? This is sweet and sentimental, but not overly so, and that's about all you can say about it. No matter how deeply you dig into this plot and its characters, there seems to be little substance beneath the surface.

It rates a 3.8/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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A funny look at Jewish kids growing up.
TxMike15 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The title, 'Keeping Up with the Steins' is an obvious derivation of the old saying 'Keeping Up with the Joneses.' The story starts with the celebration of coming into manhood of the Stein son. The dad (Larry Miller) is great as the boastful dad.

Darly Sabara, the red-headed kid who was in Spy Kids, plays Benjamin Fiedler who is about to have his turn. So his dad Adam (Jeremy Piven) decides he is not to be outdone. Mom is played capably by Jami Gertz.

The movie was directed by a Marshall, and it was nice seeing Garry Marshall in a featured role as the Fiedler grandpa who, long estranged, shows up with a young girlfriend (Daryl Hannah).

Always reliable Doris Roberts is the grandma Rose Fiedler. And, old-timer Richard Benjamin is Rabbi Schulberg.

I enjoyed the movie just OK. It isn't my favorite type of comedy, and I don't know much about the Jewish customs.
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7/10
Big Fat Jewish Bar Mitzvah
David Ferguson10 June 2006
Greetings again from the darkness. Of course, it is a comedy ... Neil Diamond is the musical guest at the bar Mitzi's! Talk about a stretch - Jeremy Piven is playing a Hollywood agent. Oh wait, that happens every Sunday night on HBO. What about Jami Gertz as a slightly off-center mom? No, that happens once a week on TV as well. OK, how about Doris Roberts as the butt-in-ski grandma. You got it. That happened every week on TV until "Everybody Loves Raymond" went off the air. Last try ... Larry Miller as the wise cracking, arrogant nosy neighbor. OK, that happens a lot as well, but he always seems to be hilarious.

The point is this is all very familiar ground, but nonetheless, remains pretty funny and a very cute, light-hearted film. Piven and his dad (played by Garry Marshall, dad of director Scott Marshall) have their bitter moments, but for the most part it is played pretty straightforward as a coming of age comedy with more adult roles than usual.

Daryl Sabara plays 13 year old Benjamin Fiedler, who is preparing for his bar Mitzi's, the rite to manhood in the Jewish religion. "Helping" him are Richard Benjamin as his Rabbi and his long lost grandfather played by the charming Garry Marshall, who shows up with his significantly younger hippie girlfriend played by Daryl Hannah (the second "Kill Bill" reference of the film). Benjamin is a wreck as his parents compete with the Stein's over the size of the party, while he dreads the chants that must be performed in front of the audience.

The best scenes are between Marshall and Sabara, but Piven delivers his usual fine work as the bitter dad/grown-up son. You definitely don't have to be Jewish to "get" this movie or to enjoy it. It doesn't aspire to be much more than a cozy couple of hours at the theatre and that front it succeeds.
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8/10
thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish
rubes1319 June 2006
Competitive bar mitzvah-ing takes a quantum leap toward becoming an Olympic sport in this clash of Hollywood press agent-dads.

The film opens on a half-million dollar party with a "Titanic" theme on a real cruise ship, complete with the young man of the hour at the bow of a mock cruise ship sailing through icebergs, spreading his wings and screaming to the world, "I am the King of the Torah!"

From that tasteful opening, the preparations for the next bar mitzvah celebration become a tad ostentatious. Not to be outdone, the next talent agent's son's party must of course be bigger and better: "It's the party that matters!"

While it's unlikely anyone reading this review has engaged in an act of "keeping up with the Joneses, er, Steins" at this level, it is also unlikely any reader has not similarly competed at more modest levels. Humor is reality exaggerated. This film might be just a little too funny. There are a few moments when we silently scream, "Ouch!" Who wants outsiders seeing us at less than our best?

Garry Marshall as the granddad invited back into the family after decades away is the voice of sanity who swims naked and tells truths. Daryl Hannah, still a "10" after all these years, as Marshall's "airy-fairy" shiksa friend, Sacred Feather, also swims naked, but unfortunately in a well-placed tube. Doris Roberts, as the grandma who never divorced her rapscallion husband, is her usual Doris Roberts character, played – also as usual – to perfection. Jeremy Piven comes within a hair of bursting into a million pieces from anger and the need to win. Daryl Sabara as the about-to-be Stein bar mitzvah, is wonderful: capable of a wide range of believable emotions. Cool kid.

"Steins" is a story to which we can all relate on some level, and thus we willingly suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. The ending would be predictable if we weren't so completely engaged in the shenanigans along the way that we don't take the time to think about what's coming. Even if we did, the film does it better than you would have imagined.

Not one of the all-time great flicks, but thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
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8/10
A Nice Film
the_mad_mckenna17 November 2006
This is actually a nice film, and probably a very good family film that you can let teens see and they won't be bored/embarrassed (like "cheaper by the dozen"). While it doesn't have any hilarious moments, there are plenty of funny lines, plus the sight of what i think are Gary Marshall's actual buttocks (heaven help us all). The casting is very good, and while the film might have been a bit shirt, it did a good job of fleshing out the characters. Adam Goldberg's cameo might be the highlight of the film, so funny you'd think it's the return of the "Hebrew Hammer". I don't think you can go wrong with this one if you're sitting down with family and friends, even more so if they're Jewish!
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10/10
Very Funny & Most Entertaining Film!
celebritysignings6 June 2006
Jeremy Piven, Garry Marshall + Daryl Hannah were all terrific. Being Jewish myself, this film reminded me a lot of my Bar Mitzvah and how crazy things get! I must tell you that my favorite in the entire movie was actress Sandra Taylor who played Raylene Stein. This gal is drop dead gorgeous. In my book I rate her a '13' in both looks and acting. I found her to be most entertaining and very funny. I also enjoyed Larry Miller, Cheryl Hines and Daryl Sabora's roles. I think Daryl Sabora was the perfect choice for this movie. Bravo to Scott Marshall for putting out such an entertaining flick. I left the theater feeling like I really got my money's worth this time.
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6/10
Those Crazy Jews
verbusen14 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I actually watched this movie on a plane flight. So? you may be asking yourself "What's the big deal about that?" Well this flight was on an Arab plane! I was flying on Gulf Air from London to Kuwait, and the flight was pretty full (aren't they all nowadays?). And they had just shown X Men 3 (its a 6 hour flight) and up pops the Jewish kid talking about his Bar Mitzvah, MAN! I started looking around to see if anyone was like gonna freak out because this movie is unmistakably Jewish! Luckily no incidents involved and I got home to Kuwait safe. I just had to tell that story, to me if they can show a movie about Jews on an Arab flight there may be hope in the world after all. About the movie, I once converted to Reform Jewish to marry a Jewish girl when I was much younger, that didn't work out and I didn't keep up with it, but growing up with a lot of Jews in New York I did find it humorous at times. I would only see Reform Jews truly enjoying this movie because the characters don't strike me as very conservative. It's no American Pie because the kid is only 13 and its really not for kids, so this movie is really hard to like a whole lot, but I did watch it through because I was on a flight and I chuckled a little. All light weight in the end though, there was little resolution done with the Grandfather and the relationships he left behind (like his Wife).
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6/10
The Child is The Father of The Man
lord woodburry25 June 2006
This endearing movie is a coming of age film in an upper upper middle class family in a Jewish neighborhood in LA. Meet Benjamin Fiedler (Daryl Sabara) age 13. Ben has reached the age where he undergoes the bar mitzvahs ritual to mark the entrée to adulthood. Of course his friend Zachary Stein (Carter Jenkins)who precedes Ben warns "this doesn't mean you can drink or drive a car.

The Stern family threw a lavish affair with a movie theme based upon the Titanic. Ben's dad Adam Fielder decides the Fielders must outdo the splendor of the Sterns by renting out Dodger Stadium. Adam Fielder (Jeremy Piven) is not a little sore that his own bar mitzvahs was a subdued affair and that his father Irwin Fiedler (Garry Marshall) deserted the family.

Religion and the meaning of the rite has taken a back seat to the planning of an extravagant event. Enter grandpa Irwin who arrives a week early. As Dad bristles with a contempt grandma Rose (Doris Roberts) cannot bring herself to bear, grandpa with his ding-a-ling left-over hippie girlfriend Sacred Feather sets up his rusty RV on the driveway depreciating the property values.

Can Ben and Grandpa Irwin set the ceremony back on track?

There is an excellent performance of Richard Benjamin as Rabbi Schulberg.

While there is a gratuitous nudie scene when grandpa goes skinny dipping in the Fielder's pool with Sacred Feather, the film is excellent family comedy which speaks to a universal theme, the importance of simplicity and the eloquence of understatement. It is too bad more films are not made in this spirit.
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