In Brian Fogel’s new romantic comedy Jewtopia, mixed signals are the order of the day, both from the characters to each other and from the movie to the audience. When redneck plumber Christian O’Connell (Ivan Sergei) finally gets Alison Marks’s (Jennifer Love Hewitt) phone number, he hopes it will end the nine years he’s spent mourning the Jewish college girlfriend who broke up with him because of his religion. Alison, the rabbi’s daughter, loves Christian’s NASCAR jacket, which she mistakes for an indication of his sense of humor. In fact, Christian just likes NASCAR. He also likes Jewish women. What should make viewers skeptical, besides Christian’s fetish for Semites, is that despite living in Los Angeles, he appears only to know one actual Jew—his childhood best friend, Adam Lipschitz (Joel David Moore). He wildly offends Alison on their date by complimenting her “Jew beak”—and we’re supposed to like this guy?—and spends the rest of the movie trying to win her back. But Jewishness never sits right on Christian. It’s not his name that gives him away; it’s his utter lack of irony or self-awareness. Somebody get the man a copy of Annie Hall! While Jewtopia is in many ways just another ignorant bromedy—there’s an Asian fetish, a gay fakeout, hilarious mental illness, and the Miley Cyrus–style use of black people as accessories—what makes it unique is its earnest cluelessness. It’s a movie that thinks it stands for openness and cultural understanding, underneath the poop jokes, when in fact it manages to be offensive to almost everyone, including people who like to laugh at something because it’s funny, not just because it makes us uncomfortable.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 18, 2013