The Revenge of Itzik Finkelstein

Filled with old-fashioned humor and the nebbishy appeal of its Jerry-Lewis-on-Prozac star, Moshe Ivgi ("Cup Final"), this "Revenge" will be sweet to selected auds while leaving others sour. It's currently making the rounds in the U.S. as part of the traveling Israel Film Festival.

Filled with old-fashioned humor and the nebbishy appeal of its Jerry-Lewis-on-Prozac star, Moshe Ivgi (“Cup Final”), this “Revenge” will be sweet to selected auds while leaving others sour. It’s currently making the rounds in the U.S. as part of the traveling Israel Film Festival.

Small-time hustler Itzik Finkelstein still lives with his aged mother in suburban Tel Aviv, but figures his ship has come in with a foolproof novelty — who wouldn’t want a key-chain monk with a red-tipped erection? He orders 50,000 units, but for some reason he has a tough time moving the merchandise.

His despair is relieved only when one of the monk-lets comes suddenly to life in the form of a dour six-foot friar, sans sexual apparatus, but with a South American accent (Daniel Stern-ish Esteban Gottfried) and the promise that he’ll grant Itzik some wishes.

Although it’s not clear what powers this brown-robed genie, invisible to everyone else, actually offers, Itzik is nudged into action and sets out to punish those he figures made him such a loser. The greasy-haired schlemiel confronts a bossy fourth-grade teacher, a sadistic army officer, his slimily successful cousin and, finally — who else? — his Yiddishe mama (Dvora Kedar) before realizing he’s his own worst enemy.

Along the way, Argentina-born helmer Enrique Rottenberg mounts some amusing set pieces, many based on the standard talking-to-thin-air premise, in between some mildly cruel moments and flashes of wit (when Itzik confronts his mother, in the pic’s best scene, she blows up at Freud’s pernicious influence). Tech credits are adequate and include some crude special effects.

Auds at Montreal preem were evenly divided between oldsters, who guffawed mightily, and youthful viewers, who walked. That split alsoreflects the pic’s antediluvian sexual politics: Younger female characters are casually abused or stripped for no reason. This mindless misogyny in the otherwise funny “Itzik” will probably relegate pic to video status.

The Revenge of Itzik Finkelstein

(ISRAELI)

Production: A Revenge of Itzik Finkelstein Ltd. production. Produced, directed by Enrique Rottenberg. Screenplay, Rottenberg, Esteban Gottfried, from Ricardo Talesnik's "La Venganza de Beto Sanchez."

Crew: Camera (color), Jorge Gurvitz; editors, Tali Halter-Shenkarusic, Shlomo Idov; art direction, Danni Leifschitz; sound, Shabtai Sarig. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (non-competing), Aug. 29, 1994. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Moshe Ivgi, Esteban Gottfried, Dvora Kedar, Shmil Ben-Ari, Ayelet Sorer , Alexander Cohen, Cesar Ulmer, Shiri Golan, Gilat Ankori, Ezra Kafri, Bat-Sheba Noam, Moska Alkalai.

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