1½ stars (out of four)
The poster slogan errs. "Something's not quite kosher" is not the problem. Something's not quite funny is the problem.
Helmed by first-time feature film director Scott Marshall, Garry's son, "Keeping Up With the Steins" squanders a decent comic premise, in which a nice Jewish Hollywood family gets caught up in a mael strom of bar mitzvah planning. Screenwriter Mark Zakarin's protagonist, Benjamin Fielder (Daryl Sabara, who seems to be auditioning for every role in the Neil Simon canon), wants only two things for his transition into today-I-am-a-manhood: a little party and a reunion between his father and his estranged grandfather. Jeremy Piven plays the father, a nice-guy talent agent who is a lot less interesting than the not-so-nice-guy agent Piven plays on "Entourage." Garry Marshall plays the grandfather, a desert-rat hippie (yeah, Marshall's perfect for the role) whose girlfriend is played by Darryl Hannah. Jami Gertz plays the blandly understanding mother, and despite the material, she's one of the movie's partially redeeming facets.
Piven's character is all about overcompensating: His own father left when he was young, and now the agent strives to give Benjy everything he never had. "Keeping Up With the Steins" is a tweener in every respect: It hasn't the nerve to offend anyone, yet it hasn't the flavor of warm-hearted comfort food. It's a TV dinner with the plastic left on, and a wide variety of highly skilled performers (Cheryl Hines as a manic bar mitzvah planner, Larry Miller as a sneering rival agent, Richard Benjamin as a rabbi) come off like second-raters. We're told that family is everything, but in comedy, family is not everything: Funny is.
'Keeping Up with the Steins'
Running time: 1:26. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some crude language, nudity and brief drug references).Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times