Oy vey. Making The Family Stone’s shenanigans and schmaltz seem downright sophisticated by comparison, Salvador Litvak’s Passover-themed When Do We Eat? gives Jews an insufferable holiday family comedy to call their own. Reuniting for the traditional religious seder, the dysfunctional Stuckman clan instead transforms the ritualistic festivities into a venue for acrimonious name-calling, accusations, and revelations. Caricatures through and through, the relatives all possess resentment and anger toward one another, which manifests itself in myriad unfunny ways, from Christmas tree ornament-making secularist father Ira (Michael Lerner) having his antacid spiked with ecstasy by pothead son Zeke (Ben Feldman), to newly Hasidic son Ethan (Max Greenfield) giving into incestuous temptation with first cousin once-removed Vanessa (Mili Avital) while “Hava Nagila” plays on the soundtrack, to put-upon mom Peggy’s (Lesley Ann Warren) relationship with bald, eye patch-wearing Israeli stud Rafi (Mark Ivanir). Toss in a whorish sex therapist (Shiri Appleby), an autistic introvert (Adam Lamberg), a bitter lesbian (Meredith Scott Lynn) and her African-American girlfriend (Cynda Williams), and a holocaust-obsessed grandfather (Jack Klugman), and the result is an unhealthy serving of forced farcicality that flirts between benignly obnoxious and thoroughly excruciating. Beset by psychedelic hallucinations that diffuse his fury and augment his conciliatory squishiness, a contrite Ira becomes convinced that he’s a latter-day Moses guiding his brood through their own difficult journey toward forgiveness and spiritual union, and it’s not long before everyone quits their self-centered, petulant bitching and moaning and happily embraces the evening’s intended spirit of togetherness. This switch from rambunctious ridiculousness to sappy sentimentality, however, makes not a speck of difference, as When Do We Eat?—whether cracking wise about adultery and disability or going all mushy during its climactic round robin procession of apologies—pulls off the double whammy of being equally inept at humor and pathos.
- Salvador Litvak
- Salvador Litvak, Nina Davidovich
- Lesley Ann Warren, Michael Lerner, MaxGreenfield, Shiri Appleby, Ben Feldman, Mili Avital,Meredith Scott Lynn, Adam Lamberg, Cynda Williams, Mark Ivanir
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