Songs and love, served with 'Cupcakes'

Sweetly baked 'Cupcakes' served by Israel's Eytan Fox ('Yossi & Jagger')

Romantic woes give way to guilty-pleasure song stylings in "Cupcakes," Eytan Fox's affectionate sendup of the Eurovision contest and better living through kitsch. Popping with crayon-bright hues and bubbly diversity, the gentle silliness unfolds in contemporary Tel Aviv, where six friends' off-the-cuff music video unexpectedly lands them a spot in the UniverSong competition.

The director and his co-writer, Eli Bijaoui, pave the road to the big event in Paris with lessons in self-acceptance, some delivered with disappointing directness. Though the comic confection's clunky moments keep it from achieving soufflé delicacy, its bright zingers and seamless fantasy sequences amp the playfulness, and the mostly unforced performances complement the production's cartoonish exuberance.

The central characters share first names with the actors who play them, and each wears a signature color of the rainbow. Red belongs to bakery owner Anat (Anat Waxman), the eldest of the otherwise 30-ish group. Her marital troubles inspire her five pals to croon a song of encouragement to her, and their phone recording of it soon lands them in the hands of a satirically showbizzy team of handlers, groomers and promoters.

Fox ("Yossi & Jagger") arranges the characters symmetrically, in candy-colored apartments and, in the case of the sole male in the group (Ofer Shechter), the kindergarten classroom where he teaches. When Ofer isn't entertaining the kids, he's losing patience with his closeted hummus-heir boyfriend (Alon Levi). But there's no doubt that love, along with pop music, will prevail.


No MPAA rating: in Hebrew with English subtitles.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino.

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World