USA Today - 05/12/2006
"Bar mitzvahs -- like birthday parties and weddings -- have evolved into increasingly elaborate and extravagant affairs. KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS does a clever job of lampooning that ridiculous excess."
While intending to bridge the gap between boyhood and manhood, bar mitzvahs can often more closely resemble extravagant sweet-sixteen parties than actual religious ceremonies. It is this trend that forms the basis of KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS, a family comedy about what happens when a Hollywood agent uses his son's bar mitzvah as a vehicle for outspending his nemesis. Jeremy Piven perfectly inhabits the role of Adam Fiedler, a character strikingly similar to that of his star turn as Ari Gold on the HBO series ENTOURAGE. Energetic and fast-talking, Adam approaches his son Benjamin's bar mitzvah in the same way he deals with business, stopping at nothing to make his son's party more excessive than anything thrown by the competition. But will this conspicuous spending achieve anything, aside from alienating Adam's son (SPY KIDS' Daryl Sabara) and wife (Jami Gertz), and making Adam look like a fool' Through Benjamin's voiceovers, we learn that he is not only against such an elaborate affair, but is terrified of having to master Hebrew in time for the ceremony. While Adam craves the limelight associated with such an event, Benjamin would rather not be the center of attention. Wise beyond his years, Benjamin decides to use the event as a means to reunite his father with his estranged grandfather, Irwin (Garry Marshall).
KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS explores ideas of growth, with the film's 13-year-old protagonist Benjamin displaying more maturity than most of the adults in the film. Directed by Scott Marshall, the film, while sometimes predictable, benefits from a star-studded cast (including Doris Roberts, Cheryl Hines, and Daryl Hannah) and a well-written script. A coming-of-age story filled with Jewish humor, the film should appeal to viewers of all ages.
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