My Mexican Shivah

My Mexican Shivah kvetches its way through an insipid vision of cross-cultural conflict. In the Polanco quarter of Mexico City, a Jewish paterfamilias goes kaput, after which family and friends come together to sit shivah over him, with two angels surveying the ensuing skirmishes from the sidelines. In the kitchen, the maids get reamed out by Esther (Raquel Pankowsky) for mixing dairy and meat, and from the living room emerges an obscenely manicured and decked-out abuela to push the word "chutzpah" from her obscenely pursed lips. Which is to say, the film is one kosher-versus-chimichanga smackdown after another: The mariachi band gets turned away because the shivah ceremony doesn't allow for happiness; threats and accusations are flung at the Catholic shiksa who shows up uninvited; a relative hides from the police behind his Orthodoxy while also chasing after his cousin's tail; and talk of abortion and virginity is all the rage. All that's missing here is the Orthodox gay papi chulo. Armed with broad humor and scant insight, Alejandro Springall settles for shooting gefilte fish in a barrel, directing the persistent oy-ing and ay-ing of his characters with only half the charm of one of his country's telenovelas.

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