KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS
The Steins of Brentwood held their son's bar mitzvah celebration on an ocean liner at sea, with party sets modeled after the movie Titanic—how do you top that? Such is the dilemma facing Hollywood agent Adam Fiedler (Jeremy Piven), whose son Benjamin (Daryl Sabara) isn't sure that his dad's plan for a Dodger Stadium extravaganza is the best way to go. Although first time director Scott Marshall and screenwriter Mark Zakarin nimbly satirize West LA excess, Keeping Up with the Steins is actually more of a valentine to Jewish family life—one that goes down a lot sweeter than the recent, similarly-themed When Do We Eat? Marshall is the nephew of actor-director Penny Marshall (Laverne & Shirley to Awakenings) and the son of TV producer-movie director Garry Marshall (Happy Days to Pretty Woman), who here gives a funny, surprisingly restrained performance as Adam's long lost father, a man with a knack for cutting to the heart of the Talmudic teachings that have Benjamin so tongue-tied. As director, Scott Marshall displays an unsurprising flair for selling a joke, but also a fine sense of dramatic pacing and, even better, a gift for brevity, neither of which, it could be argued, are innate skills of his famous filmmaking family. (Chuck Wilson) (Countywide)
See Film feature. (Edwards University, Irvine; Mann Rancho Niguel, Laguna Niguel)
Dear lord, there's a trilogy of these movies now? Obviously someone's watching, though it's hard to imagine anybody tuning in to this ultra-earnest third installment without irony, as the acting and screenwriting are mostly laugh-out-loud bad. But the titular floppy-eared dog is the series' reason for existence, and if the pooch is all you're looking for, rest assured that he's in this one too—and if you wait around long enough, you get to see him swim. Abused in part one by a mean redneck (Scott Wilson), who was then redeemed in part two following a car accident, Shiloh remains a little wary here. Will he warm to his reformed ex-owner again, or will the old drunk revert to his crooked ways? Wilson's almost a good enough actor to make you care, but he gets no help from bland young lead Jason Dolley, and the fact that Michael Moriarty has been replaced in the cast by Gerald McRaney ought to tell you something. Even Hoot was more interesting. (Luke Y. Thompson) (Countywide)
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