What starts off as a fun, slightly goofy satire quickly takes a turn for the worst and becomes yet another standard, unfunny coming-of-age story... except about Jews. That's not me being ignorant/bigoted/racist/Kazakhstani - it's just an observation. The single standout thing about this film that sets it apart from all the other comedies of this ilk is the focus on the culture. That's it. Everything else feels about as manufactured as a box of... you know, stuff that's really manufactured. It's rather unfortunate too, seeing as how the material presented here is plenty ripe for a biting send-up. Instead, they remove all the "bite" and just leave in the corny jokes and annoying characters (like Irwin, the estranged father - he's not nearly as cool and fun-loving as the movie wants to make him seem).
The biggest problem with the movie though is the focus on the boy. In an attempt to create not just a film about the cultural differences of being a Jewish kid and what that's like growing up, the filmmaker's also tried to encompass what it's like being a kid in general. We see him experiencing a crush on a girl, getting drunk for the first time, trying to hide that he was looking at porn, etc. Had it not been handled in such a cheesy and predictable manner, this might've worked. But it was, and it doesn't. None of it feels authentic - worse yet, the entire movie has this sort of "artificial" quality about it. And I don't want to be mean, but leading lad Daryl Sabara (from the SPY KIDS flicks) just can't sustain a film by himself. It's not that he's an awful actor or anything (although he does tend to make it really obvious that he's, well, acting), it's that, more often than not, he's better at grating nerves than pulling heartstrings. And Jeremy Piven (who by the way I think is awesome) doesn't fare much better. He's basically cast as a jerk. Sure, he wants the best for his son, and of course in the end he learns that what's really important in life is... being together... as a family... and loving... one... another... *zzzzzzzzzz*
Huh, wha? Oh, sorry about that. Dozed off for a second.
Audio Commentary (with director Scott Marshall and father/actor Gary Marshall): This father-son track (the father being an actor in the film, as well as the director of PRETTY WOMAN, and the son being the director of this particular movie) is certainly chatty, but it just sort of rambles from topic to topic. Gary Marshall has some speaking skills, though.
Audio Commentary (with director Scott Marshall and writer/producer Mark Zakarin): This commentary is more informative than the last, with Zakarin standing out as the more interesting of the two. Worth listening if you enjoyed the film.
Behind the Scenes (8:21): A standard interview-laden featurette featuring some behind-the-scenes clips and practically nothing of interest that you couldn't find on IMDB.
Deleted Scenes (7:45 - with optional commentary by Scott Marshall and Mark Zakarin): There are six deleted scenes, none of which are all that interesting to watch.
Also included are several Sneak Peeks for various movies and TV show DVDs.
...Oh sorry, did I do it again?