“Jewtopia,” the story of two longtime friends — one Jewish, one not — moving in completely opposite directions when it comes to choosing a wife, may not exactly be utopia, but it sure is a hilarious flick.
At least, that’s the case in the new feature comedy movie directed by Bryan Fogel, who co-wrote the screenplay that was based on the book and stage play of the same title by Sam Wolfson.
The film, which drew more than 1 million people as a stage presentation, had a limited release Friday, Sept. 20, the closest venue being Philadelphia. But it will be available for screening on Video on Demand.
Ivan Sergei plays Christian O’Connell and Joel David Moore plays Adam Lipschitz — two childhood friends who reunite as adults to help one another land the women of their dreams.
There are just two problems: Christian is a redneck Army brat who wants to marry a Jewish woman so he’ll never have to make another decision for himself as long as he lives, while Adam is a nerdy Jew, infamous for his bar mitzvah meltdown, who has been suffocated by bossy Jewish women his entire life.
The first of those women is Adam’s mother. Now it’s his live-in fiancée (played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who is best known for her role as Meadow on “The Sopranos”), an obsessive ob-gyn who busies herself supervising construction of the couple’s high-security nursery, even though she isn’t even pregnant.
Christian meets the love of his life when, on a whim, he walks into a synagogue singles dance and meets Allison, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. But Alison is the daughter of the synagogue’s rabbi and his macher of a wife (played to perfection by Wendy Malick), both of whom will have plenty to say about Allison’s choice of a mate.
So when Christian enlists Adam’s help in pretending to be Jewish — up to and including circumcision — the humor is fast and furious.
But it’s not everyone’s brand of humor. The jokes are often based on stereotypes — funny in most cases, mildly offensive in some. There also are some sexually potent scenes, which definitely put “Jewtopia” beyond the realm of family movies.
But if none of that bothers you, then be prepared for some fun entertainment, and perhaps even to be prodded into thought. All stereotypes have the tiniest kernels of truth, and the ones found in “Jewtopia” are no exception. In a time when far too many young Jews run from the synagogue, indeed, from all organized religion, maybe this movie, through its humor, subtly pushes us to examine ourselves, and how we present Judaism to our kids.
By the way, the always-wacky Jon Lovitz, who plays Adam’s father and the owner of an embroidery business his son is compelled to enter, has a comparatively minor role in the film. Lovitz being Lovitz, though, he comes close to stealing the show. Enjoy!
“Jewtopia” is available on demand on Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, Xbox, DirecTV, iTunes, Amazon, Sony, Vudu, Google, Cox, Echostar and Cablevision.
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)