West Bank Story (2005) Poster

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9/10
hilariously worthwhile
bgrimmett23 June 2005
I saw West Bank Story yesterday at the opening of the Boston International Film Festival. Despite being only 22 minutes in length, the director, Ari Sandel, brilliantly takes a parodistic approach to the movie-musical genre, but combines this with a satirical, yet poignant perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma. All of this is woven together, even while honoring the original inspiration for the plot (Romeo and Juliet, and later, West Side Story). Prepare yourself for dancing menorahs, choreographed falafel-making, and a full dose of ethnic stereotypes. The final product is visibly well-rehearsed, to-the-point, and quite hysterical. Go see this film!
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10/10
Excellent, Hilarious Satire from Director to Watch
kirklott30 April 2006
I just saw this at the Boulder International Film Festival, and it was the highlight of the comedies. West Bank Story is a ruthlessly funny send-up of everything from Middle East tension to Hollywood musicals. I have no idea how much the filmmakers spent, but they went over the top for what appears to be a student film (USC). Great casting, music including a complete orchestral score, writing, production design - this has it all, especially for a short. I hope director Ari is able to find a career in Hollywood, because he deserves it. (OK, IMDb is forcing me to write more, so I'll tell you the movie featured a camel, clever sets, etc.)
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8/10
Funny Funny Funny!!!!
CountMacula21 March 2006
West Bank Story is a truly creative and original short film, retelling the tale of West Side Story in the context of the Middle East. Specifically, two neighboring fast-food restaurants in the West Bank - one Jewish and one Arab.

As a musical, well, let's just call it a comedy, since the musical numbers are funnier than they are musically brilliant. But hey, it's a spoof, and social satire, and on both counts West Bank Story does really well.

The film does a great job of making fun of both "sides" equally. The satire manages to be both good-natured and poignant, fearless yet never heavy. There are many good in jokes that those who have spent time in the West Bank will appreciate if you watch closely, such as the green line separating the two sides in a split-screen moment...

Yes, it's wall-to-wall stereotypes here, but... can't we have a little fun with this? I can't imagine that having a sense of humor could make things any worse. And laughter has a healing power, so enjoy the good medicine in West Bank Story.
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10/10
sparkling, spirited satire
lori hofmann9 February 2005
Although it lasts just 22 minutes, "West Bank Story" does a beautiful job of entertaining and educating the audience. The backdrop of the West Bank is a perfect setting for this poignant, playful take on the traditional "Romeo and Juliet" story. It is clear that all involved with this film paid great attention to detail; from the costumes to the cinematography to the conversations, every element is vividly and engagingly conveyed. The satirical spins on Shakespeare, the musical genre, the ongoing political and ideological conflicts in the Middle East, and even the fast food industry make this a must-see. "WBS" was one of the true highlights of Sundance 2005...kudos to cast and crew on a job very well done. I made sure I was one of the first in line to add this short to my collection when it was released on DVD!
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9/10
great little piece of film-making - political satire at its entertaining best
danawerd20 May 2005
I was fortunate to have seen this film at the Santa Cruz Film Festival this year and it was fantastic!! Humor, political satire, song, what's not to love? I was especially impressed with the quality of the writing - very sharp and funny- and the acting and film-making overall. Really well done and thoroughly entertaining. I expected to see some familiar names in the credits, say Spielberg or some such, but was surprised to learn it was a student film from USC. Top notch production quality and talent. The story line was so true to the Shakespearean plots in Romeo and Juliet (and West Side Story) but with a modern twist and sensibilities. Very timely political spin on the tensions of the West Bank. I will be looking for this on DVD as well as watching for new projects from this creative team. A must see!
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9/10
Hilarious and brilliant
mean_bean126 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I adored this movie. After seeing that it won an Academy Award, I bought it and realized why it did. I'm from Egypt myself, and I was afraid that it would be partial to one side, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was very objective. It made fun of both equally, and at the same time, ended on a happy note with the two families working together. I completely disagree with the reviewer who posted before me, who said that it was biased towards the Israelis, namely because he didn't see any Muslims in the credits. Firstly, even if there were less Muslims in the credits, it doesn't mean that the Palestinian side wasn't shown. Secondly, I think they were portrayed very well and that both sides had some serious stereotypes. For example, the first Israelis you see consist of an Orthodox Jew, and a guy with a big nose! Anyway, I thought it was very well done.
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9/10
Musical comedy revolving around the romance between an Israeli and a Jew
Melissa_198231 January 2005
This film is hilarious! I just returned from the Sundance Film Festival, which is where I saw the film, and it got a great response from everyone in the audience. The cheers at the end were so loud, I was actually expecting a standing ovation. I attended the festival as an intern with the co-founders of the Harry M. Warner Film Institute. We're holding our first annual film festival this spring, and we went out to Sundance to see some films and get some more experience with festivals in general. After this show, both of my supervisors were so impressed that they approached the director of this film to see if he would be willing to submit a film to our festival. If you haven't seen this film yet, you are definitely missing out.
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6/10
Falls Into Cliché Trap After Fabulous Start
ccthemovieman-125 July 2007
This parody of "West Side Story" has a fabulous opening which I suppose would be even more hilarious to anyone who is familiar with the 1961 movie. Not ever watching that film, except for a few clips, I couldn't appreciate the parody in here. However, humor is humor and good singing is good singing and there is a lot of both in this 21-minute short. Considering the topic, it is not a shock it won the Academy Award for Best Short Film/Live Action in 2006.

Simply put, we have competing fast-food restaurants on the West Bank: one Jewish, one Arabic. You have the "Kosher King" eatery on one side and the "Hummus Hut" on the other. Some of the signs in each establishment are clever ("The Chosen Restaurant") and some of lyrics sung by the "help" will make you laugh. There almost is too much to digest in a short period. One would have to view this several times to get all the jokes in the first few minutes.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film - the bulk of it - can't match that fantastic beginning. Things settle down when the romantic songs start and the rest of the story is romance and "peace" between the two long-time enemies. It gets very cliché-like and predictable.....too much so, to the point of being sappy.
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Very funny award-winning film short.
TxMike28 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
At only 18 minutes, it doesn't require much effort to see this small but fine film. The setting is West Bank, Palestine, present day. The Jews and Muslims co-exist, but in a slightly strained relationship. The beginning is an homage to West Side Story, with similar groups and choreography. Thus the name, "West Bank Story." And, true to its inspiration, involves a budding love affair between a young man and a young woman from different backgrounds.

The basic story involves competing fast-food stands, one Jewish and Kosher, the other Muslim. Each has its clientèle. Then, a mild altercation causes the Muslim hut to burn down, and while the Jews are watching and cheering, a spark floats over to burn the other down. In the end, all the people are still hungry and need to be fed, so they end up combining whatever is salvaged and feed the people.

True to its humor, at the end the girl worries that the Jews and the Muslims will not be able to get along. He says, "If not, I will take you to a place where I hear Jews and Muslims live in harmony ... Beverly Hills."
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10/10
Brilliant--and this was a student film--not a studio production!
MartinHafer26 February 2008
Ari Sandel was a film student when he directed and co-wrote this amazing short film. Despite this less than impressive pedigree, the film ended up winning the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film for 2006 and is among the best shorts I have ever seen--and I've seen a lot!! Considering the title, it wasn't too surprising that this film is a gentle and funny parody of WEST SIDE STORY. However, instead of being set in New York, it's on the West Bank and instead of the Sharks and Jets, the two warring groups are Palestinians and Jews. Despite the seriousness of the problems in Israel and the occupied territories, I was happily surprised that the film was NOT heavy-handed and it was in fact very, very funny. It was a gentle spoof of the problems and hatreds and unless someone is a humorless idiot, there is a lot to love in the film.

Of course there is a girl and a boy (just like in Romeo and Juliet) caught in the struggle--but instead of Capulettes and Montagues or Sharks and Jets, it's a struggle between rival fast food joints--the Kosher King and the Hummus Hut! The hats, the dialog, the songs all work together perfectly to create the mood and pull the viewer into the film.

Not at all surprisingly, this film won the Oscar but I also felt a bit sad for the losers that year, as HELMER & SON and ONE TOO MANY were also amazingly good (and funny) short films.

My advice is to see all of these films--they are included in the DVD "A Collection of 2006 Academy Award Nominated Short Films"--a must-have for fans of the genre. Also, keep your eye out for Ari Sandel--that guy is going places and I can't wait to see what he does next! 10 out of 10--my very highest rating.
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7/10
amiable enough skewering of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with fast food and singing
MisterWhiplash26 May 2007
Strange that West Bank Story didn't live up completely to my expectations, but then again I only knew about the film- and anticipated it- from the five second clip shown during the Oscars (right before it won), with a high crane shot showing a bunch of Israelis and Palestinians dancing in the street. It was something out of left field among the nominees, and it gave me and those watching the Oscars a big belly laugh. Unfortunately the actual 22 minute short film only contains some scattered laughs, and doesn't go so much for outrageous political satire as much as lighter skewering of the two sides in a simple context: fast-food. West Bank Story gives us the two chains- Hummus Hut and Kosher King- each with their own wacky decorum (Hummus Hut with their kebab-hats, and the one employee at Kosher King in a large menorah costume, the latter being maybe the funniest sight gag), and equal hatred for the other.

A plot is hatched by Kosher King to build a wall ("Jews in construction?" is the Hummus Hut's response), while the other plots to simply burn down their opponent. But meanwhile, the sister-employee of the head of Hummus Hut falls for an Israeli soldier, and the two of them try to get the two sides to stop fighting. Sprinkled throughout this short are some funny moments of cultural lampooning, like hummus being confused with Hamas, and a split-screen during a musical number with Kosher King and Hummus Hut ending in an argument between which side is encroaching on the other. But overall trhe only criticism, however a significant one, is that it's so brief that only so much can be done with the material, and yet the director Sandel and the writers only go after a few specific things, leaving out more scathing possibilities, ala Mel Brooks or other, to go for the jugular with a touchy topic. It's a safe little comedy, but worth watching at least once, with some catchy songs and small winks to the original Wise/Robbins classic.
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9/10
West Bank Story is a worthy Oscar-winning live-action short I watched on YouTube
tavm18 January 2009
Just watched this Oscar-winning live-action short on YouTube. In a parody of West Side Story, a Jewish soldier and a Palestinian young lady fall in love despite each families' rival fast food restaurants standing close to each other amid their hostilities. There are plenty of funny gags that make fun of the two nationalities' customs and stereotypes but there's also some touching scenes between the couple as well as some satirical lines that cut through the sentimentality. And, yes, some songs that parody the "Romeo and Juliet in New York" musical that provide some of the brightest moments. All I can say now is, West Bank Story is well worth watching for anyone who loves seeing musical satire done with a sharp wit.
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2/10
Stale premise, stale jokes
MarrG22 February 2007
If "Kosher King: The Chosen Restaurant" is your idea of a fresh and funny joke, you will love this film. It's packed with broad gags borrowed from the 1950s and 60s, with just a hint of modern, edgy humor to remind us of how daring this film could have been. As it has been nominated for an Academy Award, I saw it on the same evening as the other 4 nominees, which did so much more on what seem to be much lower budgets. IMDb wants me to write more, so in the film's defense, I will definitely give West Bank Story credit for being a spectacle for the eyes. Lots of color, much activity, flashy pyrotechnics, a realistic-looking fake camel, hired chickens (so say the credits)...they definitely used their budget.
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3/10
Vastly Overrated...
godjunior713 May 2007
As a fellow young filmmaker whose credits up to this point have been mostly short films, it's hard for me to say this, but I was very disappointed by the much-hyped "West Bank Story". After hearing so many good things about the short and watching it win the Best Live Action Short Oscar, I was intrigued, and managed to get a copy of it from an associate. It must be said that "West Bank Story" has a great premise. Unfortunately, the premise is really the only thing about it that's great. The execution leaves much to be desired. The jokes, which could have been so much cleverer and sharper, are instead predictable, flat, and redundant, to the point where the movie just becomes tedious to watch. The acting is fine, and it's easy to see that the filmmakers used their budget to a nice extent, but it just seems like so much for so little. I have seen some of the other shorts that were up for the Oscar, and the fact that "West Bank Story" was the one that snagged the statue doesn't exactly flatter the Academy.
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6/10
Middle East Musical Warning: Spoilers
This is a 20-minute film from 2005 that won director and writer Ari Sandel an Academy Award. He wasn't too prolific in the last 10 years, but just had a pretty successful full feature movie at theaters this year again. Anyway, "West Bank Story" is as you may have guessed from the title a tale loosely based on the classic "West Side Story". It takes place on the Middle East and focuses in a funny manner on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The countries are represented by two falafel stands here who are competing against each other for the customers. Not much later, the girl from one stand falls in love with the boy from another. The male lead actor has not acted that much recently, more gone into writing it seems. I really did like his voice though. He made this actually a pretty good musical with his singing. The female lead actress is much more famous. You may have seen her on Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management" where she played a major character. She was still very young when "West Bank Story" was made. Looks-wise she fit the character nicely, but her role did not really demand and great acting. All in all, I enjoyed it. It's a witty creative tale on the whole Middle East Conflict that is pretty unique. This film can also be an inspiration for young filmmakers that a smart idea and solid execution can be enough to even win an Oscar. Recommended.
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8/10
Exodus meets West Side Story
Robert Reynolds19 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This short won the Academy Award for Live Action Short. There will be spoilers ahead:

This is a comedic parody of West Side Story with the setting changed to Israel and the star crossed lovers being Israeli and Palestinian and the two "houses" being competing fast food places right next door to one another.

The parallels to West Side Story are blatantly obvious. That's the problem-they're often too obvious for words. This is funny and entertaining, but it tries too hard and is too over the top. I enjoyed this, but the leads are too gorgeous by half, the two warring factions are too comical for words and it all comes off as a little too cute for its own good.

I understand why it won the Oscar and it's by no means a bad choice. But I would have preferred Helmer and Son or One Too Many myself.

This short is available on DVD in more than one instance, most notably on a DVD/Blu-Ray combination compilation released by Shots International of Academy Award winning live action and animated shorts. This short is worth watching and the DVD/Blu-Ray compilation is excellent. Recommended.
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9/10
Laughing of the Real World
Lalo Dla Fuente24 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw the short film West Bank Story I didn't expect a Musical shortcut. At the begging it was wonderful to see the differences about both cultures Israelis (Jewish) and Pakistanis (Muslim), from cloths, food, life style and ideals, even music and dance can be appreciate in this film.

The main actors in this film are two young persons a Pakistani Cashier Girl and a Israeli Soldier that are in love, the problem as you can expect is the rivalry between both cultures. The plot is only about how the young lovers can workout differences between both families.

A great film to think about our own ideals and cultures.
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2/10
Tactless musical satire sinks fast.
st-shot21 July 2008
This smug short subject Oscar winner made in the US is a clumsy piece of heavy handed satire that borders on being downright offensive. Lacking in wit or originality the film parodies West Side Story in the comic environment of the Palestinian Israeli conflict (see Paradise Now). Both Jews and Palestinians are reduced to buffoons as they battle for fast food supremacy from their respective eateries Kosher King and The Hummus Hut.

Director Ari Sandel's less than inspired idea degrades even more upon fruition as he turns his characters into arch cliché (Menorah Mickey?)and seething ignoramus, wearing funny hats, singing to camels and joking about suicide bombers. The choreography is lack lustre and the parody side of the music score falls flat on its face. West Side Story is filled with identifiable melodies and ripe for satirical lyrics but Bank doesn't employ them and the concept defeats itself. The slapstick, broad and over the top (ululating cashier firing an AK 47 into the ceiling as well as a fiddler on the roof) completes this sweeping failure of a satire that is overlong at twenty minutes. It's condescension is only surpassed by it's artistic ineptitude.
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3/10
Short semi-musical comedy about the Jewish/Palestinian crisis
harborrat2820 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie left me feeling as if I'd tasted something more than a bit spoiled. It was puerile, a circumstance which may be explained by the fact that it was part of a masters' project in a California film school.

Quel surprise that the Hollywood pack would pick this movie over any of the others, all of which were foreign. I waited for the credits with curiosity to see if there were many Muslim participants in its planning and execution. There weren't.

My own feelings about the Jewish/Palestinian question are very conflicted. Overall, however, I know it is serious and I wonder if many Palestinians (or, for that matter, thoughtful Israelis, especially those whose sons are being carried home in body bags) would find this an amusing movie .

It was as if the film's makers chose to do a musical comedy featuring a seriously disabled person, using that individual's problems as pratfalls for cheap laughs. It was in excruciatingly poor taste and very juvenile. But the old Hollywood trade association was true to form--parochial and gross in its tastes.
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