Keeping Up With The Steins

on May 12, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
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"Keeping Up With The Steins" is a well-meaning comedy that does not work. It's a melodrama told from the point of view of a 13-year-old boy, Ben (Daryl Sabara), who reports on his dysfunctional contemporary Jewish family as his Bar Mitzvah approaches. It's sometimes pithy as it juxtaposes today's material- and status-driven values against the principles and traditions of the Jewish faith. It is not particularly funny, which it very much wishes to be, and is even unintentionally campy on occasion. Its moral tale about forgiveness and appreciating what you have is obvious and, frankly, irritating, given its L.A. power elite setting full of multi-million dollar agent homes and private tennis courts.

A bright note is Garry Marshall as Ben's wayward grandfather. He is a walking treasure-trove of homey yet bitingly sharp witticisms. The magnificent Neil Diamond also makes an appearance in "Keeping Up With The Steins." Unfortunately, he does not show up until the very end. Whether or not it is worth watching this entire movie to see Neil depends on just how much you love Neil Diamond. Starring Daryl Sabara, Jeremy Piven, Jami Gertz, Garry Marshall, Doris Roberts, Larry Miller and Daryl Hannah. Directed by Scott Marshall. Written by Mark Zakarin. Produced by David Scharf, A.D. Oppenheim and Mark Zakarin. A Miramax release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for some crude language, nudity and brief drug references. Running time: 85 min

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