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Movie Review: 'Reuniting the Rubins'

March 23, 2012|By Gary Goldstein
  • Timothy Spall, the snaggletoothed veteran of the "Harry Potter" series and the Mike Leigh oeuvre, plays Lenny, a vacation-bound lawyer guilt-tripped by his elderly mother (Honor Blackman) into convening his strange, estranged adult children for what she believes might be her last Passover seder.
Timothy Spall, the snaggletoothed veteran of the "Harry Potter"… (Monterey Media Inc. )

"Reuniting the Rubins" takes a time-tested concept — the dysfunctional family reunion movie — then sucks out the charm, wit, warmth and, for good measure, logic. What's left is a frantic, badly constructed, slightly offensive muddle that doesn't so much end as run out of things on a checklist.

Timothy Spall, the snaggletoothed veteran of the "Harry Potter" series and the Mike Leigh oeuvre, plays Lenny, a vacation-bound lawyer guilt-tripped by his elderly mother (Honor Blackman) into convening his strange, estranged adult children for what she believes might be her last Passover seder.

Gathering his curiously bickering offspring — an obnoxious capitalist (James Callis), a rigid rabbi (Hugh O'Conor), a strident eco-activist (Rhona Mitra) and a serene Buddhist monk (Blake Harrison) — is, by design, no easy task for the long-widowered Lenny. But writer-director Yoav Factor makes Lenny's mission, like everything else here, twice as convoluted as it needs to be.

The path to Pesach is then littered with broad obstacles and button-pushing revelations (Grandma's a Holocaust survivor! Lenny's wife died giving birth to the future rabbi!) instead of on much-needed back story and character development. Plus, the film's penultimate day is jammed with so many life-changing, time-consuming events, including perhaps the world's most quickly arranged Jewish funeral, it's truly laughable.


"Reuniting the Rubins." MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements and language. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood; Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino.

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