Sunday, December 10, 2006

DVD Drivel: Going Down With the Steins

Cinema de flush

A bar mitzvah at Dodgers Stadium?

Lines like “Let’s get Jewish. Are you ready to get Jewish?”

Retro sparks between an estranged couple that go nowhere?

Funny and promising at first, this farcical contrivance, Keeping up with the Steins, tries faking its way onto a higher road of adult comedy fare under a veneer of pseudo sophistication. And from Miramx? How about from Disney?

Adam, a Hollywood agent envious of a bar mitzvah hosted by a rival in the entertainment industry, decides to do him one better by renting Dodger Stadium for his own son, Benjamin’s coming of age bash. The very reluctant Ben nixes the idea in favor of something simpler, thus exerting a degree of independence and proving to himself that he’s on his way to manly self-fulfillment. Okay, thanks, Ben. The only thing this film made me look forward to was the Dodger Stadium party.

What messes everything up is the surprise arrival of Adam’s estranged dad, the ridiculous retro-hippie Irwin, actually invited there by Benjamin. Irwin walked out on Adam and his mom years ago. Adam still hates Irwin for his slovenly abandonment, and that’s the source of the tension, which is dramatized with all the finesse of a Jerry Springer encounter.

Irwin appears to be rekindling the old chemistry between himself and Adam’s mother – who still considers the two married. This hip dame isn’t at all bothered by the sight of the much younger Sacred Feather, who comes along as Irwin’s girlfriend. This promising plot thread goes nowhere, like the film.

Key let's-talk encounters feel manufactured to supply pathos. But the scripting and the inserted jokes (a few of them are howlers) are so over the top, this workout, like one of those trite made-for-tv movies, cries out for commercial-break relief!

Rent this contrived ditty if you dote on cheap laughs and want an excuse to gulp down more popcorn. When I glanced at the few reviews featured on the DVD, “Two Thumbs Up” by those hacks who draw paychecks from Disney should have given me pause to leave the Steins on the shelf where they belong.

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