Despite having all the ingredients for an alter-kocker comedy feast, “Lunch” is too long and unfocused to suggest anything but what might have been, had it only been a short. The centerpiece: a twice-monthly, invite-only luncheon at Factor’s Famous Deli attended by some of the more famous names in TV comedy, such as Carl Reiner and Sid Caesar. The group has met in various locations with various members (including charter luncher Hal Kanter, the late father of writer-director Donna Kanter), who have maintained their banter since 1989. TV airing, perhaps on PBS, seems likely for this microbudget docu.With a likable cast that includes the veteran writers Rocky Kalish, Ben Starr and John Rappaport and director Arthur Hiller, “Lunch” has some delicious moments: Hiller’s recollections about Paddy Chayefsky are choice, as are Arthur Marx’s memories of his father, Groucho. But while the participants are all sharp as tacks, the laughs here are more miss than hit. It doesn’t help that helmer Kanter and editor Michael Meehan consistently hang the aging comedians out to dry when a joke simply doesn’t work and might benefit from a nimble cutaway.
A Donna Kanter Co. presentation. Produced, directed, written by Donna Kanter.
Camera (color/B&W), Nausheen Dadabhoy; editor, Michael Meehan; sound, Andrew S. Braswell, Mark Hostettler; re-recording mixers, Tom Marks, Gary Bourgeois. Reviewed on DVD, Sturbridge, Mass., Oct. 24, 2012. Running time: 78 MIN.
Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Arthur Marx, Monty Hall, Arthur Hiller, Hal Kanter, Rocky Kalish, Ben Starr, John Rappaport.