The Good

Jack Klugman inspires me.

The Bad

There's no way to cut it, this movie is traife.

I had heard that When Do We Eat? was the Jewish My Big Fat Greek Wedding. My Aunt Audrey, who has since passed away, saw the film in a special screening and loved it. My parents were going to see it and I figured I would go with them. Well, I knew I was in trouble when about 15 minutes in my mother (who is one of the more open minded people I know), turned to me and said, "This sucks."

Well, things got a lot worse after that and sadly they never got better. This tale of a family coming apart over the course of a Passover Seder is in a word, terrible. I felt the acting was lousy (and the film's got a good cast), I thought the humor was pedestrian, and the situations completely unbelievable. Who knows... maybe I just didn't get it but this movie made me embarrassed to be Jewish. Throughout film history there have been many celebrated Jewish directors, but unfortunately, Salvador Litvak hasn't shown himself to be one of them.

Features

Deleted Scenes

The deleted scenes have titles like "Santa is Chubby" and "Deep Dark Middle of the Seder." The quality is weird on these and there is also timecode running through them. I guess we can't expect the deleted scenes to look as sharp as the rest of the film, mainly because this was an indie and it's not like they they are going to give every piece of unused footage the treatment.

Behind the Scenes

Some of the behind the scenes stuff is "Working Out the Fight Scene" and "Ben and Max Imitate Michael and Jack." This stuff was interesting to watch from a production standpoint, mainly because so much of this movie is self contained. Due to the close quarters and the close proximity with which things were shot, I think Salvador and his team got as creative as possible with where they placed the camera.

Auditions

If you are so inclined you can watch videotaped interview footage of Mili Avital, Mark Ivanir, Ben Feldman and Max Greenfield auditioning for their roles. I always find auditions interesting to watch, especially if you have already prescreened the movie. It's nice to be able to see what the early character looked like, and then see how the filmmaking process refined it. Sometimes the results are good and other times those results are not so good.

Visual Inspiration

The look of this film is based on an illustrated book of the Jew's Exodus from Egypt called The Szyk Haggadah. Well, I should say that the animated portions of this film have that look. I must admit that it is impressive. My Aunt Audrey, who I mentioned above, saw an early screening of this film because Rabbi Blazer (the Rabbi from her congregation) consulted on it. He is seen here discussing the Szyk Haggadah, and the next time I see him I am going to have ask him about this movie.

Commentary

This is a commentary track with Litvak and his wife Nina Davidovich. They talk about making this film for very little money, how most of the sex surrogates they saw where Jewish (a point that seemed to cause a mini-argument between them), and then there were moments where Nina would say something and Litvak would correct her. All in all, if you are a fan of this film you will probably enjoy it. I didn't have a lot of time or inclination to sit through When Do We Eat? again, so I didn't watch the whole thing, but if you liked the film you should certainly check this out.

Video

Aside from the animated portions of this film, there really wasn't anything that special about it's look. Since the majority of this movie takes place inside a sukkah (a temporary hut that is reminiscent of the huts the Jews stayed in as they wandered the desert for 40 years after they left Egypt), the production seems like it did everything in it's power to make it not seem so claustrophobic. Unfortunately, the dialogue employed in this film, the way the characters act and pretty much everything else, made me almost count the minutes until the movie was over.

Audio

Dolby Digital. I didn't really have any problems with the audio so much as I worried what other garbage was going to come out of the character's mouths. Okay, I am not trying to slag this film as it is apparent that Litvak and his team did their best. I guess I come from a more traditional bent on the religion. Having been to many seders, I would have appreciated seeing something more like this: The ceremony is highly abbreviated (because we're all there to eat anyway), and amidst eating there is a lot of yelling that is so commonplace it just sounds like idle chatter. That my friends, is my 21st Century Jewish experience.

Package

This front cover gives us a picture from the seder in which all of the older and more accomplished actors are displayed. The back gives viewers some images from the film, a short description of what When Do We Eat? is about, a Special Features listing, and technical specs. They really haven't given this film the bells and whistles treatment, but I don't know that that is really necessary for this movie or it's audience. I think they will just be happy to have this film.

Final Word

Who knows, perhaps I am bringing some personal feelings to this film? I worked on it as an extra for one day when the production was shooting a scene down in Venice. It was with Jack Klugman and I was just happy to be there. I found out that this was a Jewish themed film so naturally I was more interested as I consider myself Jewish, even though I don't do the typical things that must Jews do. Anyway, Salvador, the director, comes out wearing tzitzit which are is an undergarment that has strings hanging out of it. It seemed forced and an attempt to garner attention. As if he had just renewed his faith and wanted the world to know that this is who he was. Having grown up around Lubavitch Jews, I guess I have always respected the ones who keep to themselves, do what they do, and don't put the religion in people's faces. I feel that way about any religion.

Then, to see this film, to see that this is the statement that Litvak felt compelled to make, I could only think that I needed my own Passover celebration from this movie. As far as When Do We Eat? is concerned, Litvak, let your people go!

When Do We Eat? was released April 7, 2006.