Keeping Up with the Steins

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Keeping Up with the Steins Movie Poster Image
So-so comedy about over-the-top bar mitzvah.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Children lie to parents; adult child is angry at his father, who left the family 20 years ago; kids tease Benjamin, burp, and throw up (after drinking parents' liquor).

Violence

Slapsticky humor; Irwin pulls a sword on a driver who tries to fight him after a car accident (this upsets Benjamin's father).

Sex

Mostly jokey references to youthful desire (Ben has a crush on a girl and fumbles his way through asking her to his bar mitzvah); Benjamin has what looks like a sexy-girls site on his computer screen, which he hides when Adam enters his room; Irwin and his girlfriend appear naked in a pool (we see his back, and only hints of her breasts); wedding planner mentions a past job for a "Rastafarian gay marriage."

Language

One s-word, several uses of "hell," "crap," and slang for sex act ("get laid") and genitals.

Consumerism

References to Versace, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Bill O'Reilly, The Real World.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

13-year-olds sneak drinks, get instantly drunk, then Ben throws up.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know the film includes jokes concerning a 13-year-old boy's burgeoning sexual interests, as well as his anxiety about "becoming a man" via his bar mitzvah. Using broad Jewish, uptight-suburban, and "hippie" stereotypes, the film establishes a series of conflicts to be resolved by the end. The film includes mild language, several sexual allusions (as 13-year-olds begin to notice the opposite sex), and some underage drinking (three boys steal liquor from parents' cabinet, get tipsy, and then one throws up, whereupon his grandfather covers for him, understanding that "boys will be boys"). A grandfather and his younger girlfriend appear naked in a pool (the grandson sees their naked behinds). The grandfather pulls out a sword to fight off an angry driver.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 11 years old November 27, 2009

Real Funny

My mom rented the movie from the library because were jewish and it looked funny.My mom let me watch it and we laughed alot.It was pretty funny but not appropia... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

I laughed!

Wonderful film about a bar mitzvah

What's the story?

Young Benjamin Fiedler (Daryl Sabara) worries that he'll make a mistake during his upcoming bar mitzvah, unaware that his father, Adam (Jeremy Piven), is still haunted by the mistake he made at his own bar mitzvah. When the Fiedler's neighbors, the Steins, decide to throw a bigger-than-life celebration for their son, Adam plots his son's ceremony so as to outdo his neighbor. Meanwhile, Benji decides he can't handle the pressure and decides to create a diversion at his bar mitzvah by inviting his estranged grandfather Irwin, whose abandonment of his son and wife Rose (Doris Roberts) left Adam seething with resentment. Now living on an Indian reservation with girlfriend Sacred Feather (Daryl Hannah), Grandpa is full of remorse, advice, and energetic attention for Benji, exactly what neurotic Adam can't manage. Benji begins to see his father in a new light, flawed and sometimes menacing, yes, but also as a son himself, disappointed and unable to move on. Irwin, in turn, learns the value of family even in the face of stress and compromise, the conditions he was unable to face as a young man.

Is it any good?

KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS is both broad and affectionate, wielding stereotypes like blunt force instruments. Yes, all the Fiedler boys have lessons to learn, including forgiveness, flexibility, and the meaning of the Haftarah. The women who tend to them play equally conventional parts, though they are considerably less annoying. Sacred Feather, Rose, and Benji's mom Joanne (Jamie Gertz) affect predictable, sweet, long-suffering poses. You only wish they were allowed more movement -- at least as much as those antic boys.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the tension between Irwin and Adam, as this is premised on Irwin's abandonment of his family 20 years before: How can Adam forgive his father? (And how is it hard for him to accept that his mother forgives his father?) How can traditional rituals (like bar mitzvahs or birthday parties) simultaneously be exciting and stressful?

Movie details

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