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Review: 'Lunch,' with a side of punch lines

Join Donna Kanter and a gaggle of Golden Age funnymen for 'Lunch.' It's part fly-on-the-wall, part interview, semi-biography, all homage and quite agreeable.

October 25, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • Producer/writer John Rappaport, center, talks with radio announcer Gary Owens during lunch at Factors Deli in Los Angeles.
Producer/writer John Rappaport, center, talks with radio announcer Gary… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

The documentary "Lunch" is just what it describes, a seat at the kibitz table with a gathering of acclaimed showbiz writers, performers and directors whose Golden Age of You-Name-It comedy pedigrees are remarkable: Sid Caesar, Hal Kanter, Carl Reiner, Arthur Marx, Matty Simmons and Rocky Kalish, to name a handful.

For more than 40 years, this gang of funnymen has met on alternating Wednesdays — currently at Factor's Famous Deli on Pico, where Donna Kanter (Hal's daughter) captured them for her film — to eat, joke, tell stories and chart each other's aging, referred to as "the organ recital."

The modestly assembled "Lunch" is part fly-on-the-wall, part interview, semi-biography, all homage and certainly a testament to the way wit and longevity are (should be?) linked.

It's also invariably a tease, as there isn't nearly enough time to dig into each attendee's rich well of anecdotes, although with the recent passing of Groucho's son Arthur and legendary joke-writer Kanter, their screen time feels especially valuable.

It's still an agreeable visit with comedy titans who clearly cherish the opportunity to regale their peers with war stories and opinions about the state of comedy today. You'll even learn how to sell the punch line, "He had a hat."

"Lunch." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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