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KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS

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With his son's bar mitzvah looming, a status-obsessed Hollywood agent (Jeremy Piven) gears up to rent Dodger Stadium and widen the gift-bag gap; the boy himself, soft pliant Benjy, tries to hide by secretly inviting his long-ostracized free-spirit grandfather (Garry Marshall) to distract Dad from his one-upsmanship. The Mark Zakarin script mocks how rites of passage become spectacles of conspicuous consumption, but as directed by Scott Marshall, Steins is really just a gentle comedy about forgiveness and keeping your priorities straight ... no cakewalk, apparently, for the super-rich. Benjy, in his modest way, grows a set; dad starts to at least reconsider his anger; and everyone learns the true meaning of bar mitzvah (here, a devoutly secular lesson). The cast works it like troopers, leaving a trail of scattered laughs. But while Steins explicitly forgoes venom, neither does it compensate with enough insight to keep up. (BO)

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