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Keeping Up with the Steins Reviews

A proud graduate of the MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING school of ethnic-celebration comedy, Scott Marshall and Mark Zakarin's dissection of bar mitzvah one-upmanship could just as easily have unfolded at a baby shower, a third-grader's birthday bash, a quinceanos party or anyplace else steely-eyed social climbers see an opportunity to let their neighbors know they've arrived. Benjamin Fiedler (Daryl Sabara), the awkward, slow-to-mature son of ruthlessly competitive Hollywood agent Adam Fiedler (Jeremy Piven), is about to become a man, and his father's reputation rests on how spectacularly Benjamin's coming-of-age celebration eclipses that of former-partner-turned-rival-agent Arnie Stein's (Larry Miller) son. Topping it will be no mean feat, given that party-planner to the obscenely wealthy Casey Nudelman (Cheryl Hines) cooked up an insanely elaborate Titanic shindig for young Zachary Stein (Carter Jennings), and the Fiedlers haven't even come up with a theme yet. But no matter: Baseball is always appropriate and Dodger Stadium is available. And never mind that Benjamin has stage fright and can't begin to master the passage from the Torah he's going to have to recite in Hebrew at the ceremony. Adam has already hired hot young filmmaker Terrence Smythe (Sam Sarpong) to make a documentary that will explore every moment leading up to Benjamin's special day, and the show will go on. Except, perhaps, once Adam's estranged father, Irwin (Garry Marshall, the veteran director who happens to be Scott Marshall's father), shows up on his doorstep with his disreputable RV and considerably younger, hippie-dippy girlfriend, Sacred Feather (Daryl Hannah), in tow. Adam goes ballistic, even though Benjamin is thrilled to see his grandpa, and everyone else is inclined to let bygones be bygones. Even Adam's mother, Rose (Doris Roberts), has forgiven Irwin for taking a powder 25 years ago. But Adam is still seething — in fact, even if he didn't want to show up Arnie Stein, he'd want to make a big deal out of Benjamin's bar mitzvah, because his own was such a cut-rate, unmemorable affair. Zakarin's semiautobiographical screenplay hits all the sitcom beats, from the showboating rabbi (Richard Benjamin) to the mortification of catching grandpa and Sacred Feather skinny-dipping in the hot tub, and if its ribbing lacks teeth, it's also 100 percent free of spite and snooty meanness. Everybody learns a lesson, everybody gets a hug, everybody goes home happy. You should complain?