“When Do We Eat?”
A Rollicking Comedy
It is almost Passover once again and time for my review of one of the funniest movies ever made, “When Do We Eat”, a phrase every Jew who has ever been to a Seder knows. For those of you who do not know what a Seder is, let me explain. The Seder is the traditional meal we have at Passover that commemorates the Israelites leaving Egypt and wandering in the desert for 40 years. Each year, at Passover, we sit down to remember (and remember and remember) those times. This is not a short affair and is usually a family tradition. Like all family traditions, it moreover than not………………well, you can imagine the rest and if anyone says anything during the Seder, it is usually the question, “When do we eat”?
Salvador Litvak has filmed a Seder that goes awry in every possible way. Ira (Michael Lerner), the father, prides himself on being able to conduct the fastest Seder— the meal usually lasts from 3 to 5 hours, hence the title of the movie. Zeke (Ben Friedman), his son, manages to slop him a dose of Ecstasy at the beginning of the meal because he wants his dad to experience Passover in a new light. Peg (Lesley Ann Warren), his mother has invited a special guest, Rafi, an ex-Israeli soldier to join them and fulfills the law that there must be one guest at the table.
One of the daughters, Jennifer, is an out lesbian who brings her black lover to Seder. Another daughter, Nikki, is a prostitute masquerading as a “sex worker” and Ethan, another son, has found God and returns to his Orthodox roots but slips and “schtups” his first cousin Vanessa, a Hollywood publicist. Then there is Lionel, another son, who has been pretending to be autistic and there is a grandfather who refuses to let go of his past. When this group sits down together, it makes fireworks on the fourth of July look pale. This is a Seder no one will forget.
I am quite sure that none of us have ever had to endure the dynamics of a family like this and in that, I would say we are quite lucky. During the course of the Seder, truths are exposed and the family ends up as a happy group of people. They get to see the insides of each other and walls are torn down and true feelings come out. Even if you laugh throughout the film, there is a string possibility that you will shed tears at the end.
The DVD has plenty extras and bonus features. What I love is that this is a film you can watch over and over again and I is always fresh. In fact it is a regular film at my temple and the same people come to see it every year.