Reuniting the Rubins


Reuniting the Rubins
Directed by Yoav Factor
Monterey Media
Opens March 16, Quad Cinema

Oy vey, Mumsy. Every time hapless widowed barrister Lenny Rubin (Timothy Spall) tries to embark on a relaxing sea cruise, his high-maintenance mother (Honor Blackman) calls him back. Convinced that her far-flung family will reunite only at her own funeral, Gran Rubin flees her retirement home, buys back the family estate, and browbeats Lenny into summoning his children for a Passover feast. Too bad Lenny's brood is a Catskills joke in the flesh: What happens when you put a rabbi, a Buddhist monk, a high-strung capitalist, and a lesbian humanitarian together in the same room? Not comedy, it turns out. Writer-director Yoav Factor's debut feature gets caught between the novelty of an English-Jewish milieu and the rank familiarity of the home-for-the-holidays farce—jokes are choked by sentiment, and even idiosyncrasies seem hackneyed. Factor does himself no favors by slathering a schmaltzy score over the whole affair; a madcap race-the-pregnant-lady-to-the-hospital sequence sounds distinctly like mid-afternoon in a Nordstrom atrium. Not even the solid cast, led by Mike Leigh/Harry Potter mainstay Spall and the feisty Blackman (onetime Pussy Galore), can maneuver around the solid borders of their cartoon characters. And a pile-on of incident in the third act—a death, a birth, a multibillion-dollar business deal, a junta in the Congo—can't rouse the film from its ultimate calling as a cinematic snooze button for the senior set.


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