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Movie Review: ‘Reuniting the Rubins’

“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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