Scott Marshall’s Keeping Up With the Steins is a family-friendly Jewish morality play about a conflicted Los Angeles manboy whose parents get wrapped up in giving him an elaborate and expensive bar mitzvah at the expense of their sanity and, at times, their values.
This simple twist on the things-got-out-of-hand-but-we-all-
relationships-and-social-priorities plot seems straightforward enough, though the story’s not actually about little Ben Fiedler’s bar mitzvah nor about his parents’ rivalry with their friends, the Stein family. It’s actually the story of how young Ben attempts to facilitate reconciliation between his father and his estranged grandfather.
The tension between papa Adam (an oddly svelte and tanned Jeremy Piven), and zayde Irwin (Gary Marshall) should be enough to keep this film interesting, but the script suffers from narrative ADD, the focus continually shifting from father/son tension to mother/son tension to Ben’s fear of becoming an adult.
While Steins will appeal to families (particularly urban Jewish families with children and pre-teens), the lack of narrative cohesion will leave others totally bored and ultimately fachadick.