Review: ‘When Do We Eat?’

Another entry in indiedom's contest to create the most dysfunctional family, Salvator Litvak's "When Do We Eat?" unites 11 outrageously mismatched Jewish relatives for a feature-length Passover seder. What begins with sitcom-style infighting turns to touchy-feely reconciliation when the family stoner drops a tab of Extacy in patriarch Ira's drink.

Another entry in indiedom’s contest to create the most dysfunctional family, Salvator Litvak’s “When Do We Eat?” unites 11 outrageously mismatched Jewish relatives for a feature-length Passover seder. What begins with sitcom-style infighting turns to touchy-feely reconciliation when the family stoner drops a tab of Extacy in patriarch Ira’s drink. Without the mainstream appeal of last fall’s “Prime,” narrowcast success depends on the degree to which Jewish auds connect with the broadly drawn stereotypes; gentiles and others are sure to pass over this culturally specific comedy altogether.

Engineered to irritate poor Ira (Michael Lerner), the Stuckman clan includes a lesbian, a pothead, an idiot savant, a professional sex surrogate and a newly devout Hasid. The group trades risque jokes around the table — or schtup the other guests between courses. Such canned quirkiness isn’t exactly kosher, but well-meaning Litvak exaggerates the sin to reinforce the meaning of the meal. Once the drugs kick in, trippy effects overwhelm the arguing, but it’s the sight gags, not the CG, that feel silly. Decent production values lend this one-location comedy a pro feel, even if the material is strictly small-screen.

When Do We Eat?

Production

A ThinkFilm release of a Pictures From the Fringe production in association with Sneak Preview Entertainment. Produced by Steven J. Wolfe, Salvator Litvak. Executive producer, Horatio C. Kemeny. Co-producer, Amy Salko Robertson. Directed by Salvator Litvak. Screenplay, Nina Davidovich, Litvak.

Crew

Camera (color), M. David Mullen; editor, Richard Halsey; music, Mark Adler; music supervisors, Stuart Wax, Allison Wright Clark; production designer, Bernt Capra; costume designer, Carin Jacobs. Reviewed at Music Hall, Beverlyl Hills, April 10, 2006. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Michael Lerner, Lesley Ann Warren, Ben Feldman, Shiri Appleby, Adam Lamberg, Cynda Williams, Jack Klugman, Mili Avital, Meredith Scott Lynn, Mark Ivanir, Max Greenfield.

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