Every year, with the exception of the semester I was in Israel, I’ve been to two sedarim (seders). And every year, I find myself thinking: This is all great, but what the seder really needs is for someone to dose my Aba with Ecstasy.

OK, you got me. That wasn’t my idea. But in case you’re wondering what it took to make a feature length film about the Passover seder that doesn’t involve Mel Gibson, here’s your answer:

Indie distributor ThinkFilm said Monday it has acquired North American theatrical rights to “When Do We Eat?” which is billed as “the first Passover comedy.” An April 7 release is planned to coincide with the Jewish holiday. The film features an ensemble cast that includes veteran actors Jack Klugman and Lesley Ann Warren as well as Ben Feldman and Michael Lerner. The family‘s ceremony takes a screwball turn when the father (Lerner) is secretly given a tablet of the drug Ecstasy, leading him to try fervently to reunite his squabbling family.

That’s right; the first screwball family comedy of the Passover season is a-coming, now that it has a distributor. The film seems to be meeting with some success on the independent circuit, garnering accolades like Best Comedy at the Napa/Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the San Diego Film Festival.

The film was apparently shot in 30 days in California, and the sets are based on illustrations from the famous Szyk Haggadah, which scared the bejeezus out of me with its “David carrying Goliath’s bloody severed head” picture. (Source: WDWE news page)

What does the cast–a list of names that reads like a shul membership roster– have to say?

Ben Feldman on His Upcoming Film, “When Do We Eat:” “That’s an independent film that I’m hoping is coming out at some point because it’s great and it’s hilarious. You know, somebody is going to interested at some point and it’s going to come out and we’ll all see it. It’s weird and I think everybody loves a dysfunctional family movie. A total dysfunctional family and I’m like the druggie son who gets his dad high. It’s total comedy.”

Totally.

Next major screening is set for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, but no one seems to know exactly when. It’s a mystery. For more about the movie, including a screenings page that we can only hope is being updated on a regular basis and copious media versions of the trailer, see the official site.

And what about Purim? Purim’s already a day for comedy, so why not have the holiday be the thematic center of Christopher Guest’s next movie? According to Variety, “The film [titled “For Your Consideration”] won’t be a mockumentary in the style of Guest’s “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show” or “A Mighty Wind” but instead centers on a movie-within-a-movie that will be largely improvised.”

The name of the movie? “Home for Purim.” And the cast? Not as complete a Yidfest as “When Do We Eat,” but still droolworthy:

The filmmaker [Guest] said he and [Eugene] Levy had great fun writing the script for the movie-within-a-movie, titled “Home for Purim,” which takes place in the South in the mid-1940s. “Home for Purim” is an “extraordinarily poorly written movie. It’s a melodrama, and it’s just awful. These actors never would have imagined that this movie was going to change their lives,” Guest said.

[The Office’s Ricky] Gervais will play the head of a studio’s specialty division producing “Purim,” while Guest will play a director who has shot 18 sitcom pilots, none of which have gone to series. Levy will play an agent. The three actors will be played by [Guest series regulars Catherine] O’Hara, [Parker] Posey and [Harry]Shearer.

Don’t worry, kids; the film also stars most of Guest’s other regulars: Michael McKean, Bob Balaban, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Deborah Theaker and Fred Willard. Plus congrats to former Daily Show-nik Rachael Harris, who’s made the cut into this elite ensemble. [Any Jewlicious readers who’d like to get me an informational interview with Christopher Guest about being in his next movie should feel welcome to go ahead and set that up in L.A. for mid-February.]

This film misses the vital Purim movie season; the studio’s slated it for a fall release. Hopefully not during the chagim.

More on the story of the slow march of Jewish holidays over the non-believers of Hollywood in the name of comedy as it happens.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.

8 Comments

  • Good stuff Esther! And I saw “When Do We Eat?” already — good funny film. Not great, but definitely entertaining and enjoyable. Hope it does well for them!

  • For years I’ve been thinking that my family’s seder would make a great play. I’ve always wondered if others had similiar ridiculous family drama during the seder so I’m totally looking forward to this movie. Although luckily accidental drug use has never played a role in my family, it’s usually more like suddenly athiest pre-teen cousins refusing to participate and grandmothers reading People Magazine instead of the haggadah, and then my cousin yelling at everyone for not paying attention and ruining her favorite holiday. Really, it’s a good time for all. 🙂

    Now I just have wait for the movie to make its way to Richmond, VA…

  • The last seder I went to had the hosts rapping all the prayers. It would be fun to see this done while on ecstacy. Fine holiday fun. Two thumbs up!

  • Esther, first of all I love your page! I am the co-writer of “When Do We Eat?” and I hope you’ll come see it when it arrives in theaters April 7 (just in time for Passover) – or you can catch the premiere on April 1 as the opening night film of the LA Jewish Film Festival.

    If you’re sick of seeing Melanie Griffith and Meryl Streep play Jewish characters – and if you’re sick of Jewish women being portrayed in movies and TV as obnoxious and less attractive to Jewish men than the shiksa goddess – I think you’ll like our movie. It’s an all-Jewish cast (except for the African-American character) and the actresses are gorgeous, smart and sexy. Plus we feature a smokin’ hot Hasid (played by Max Greenfield).

  • Nina Beth, throw in airfare from New York, and a date with one of the smokin’ hot (male) cast members, and I’m so there. I actually would make excellent arm candy for up-and-coming Jewish hotties. And yes, I’d even schmooze with celebs at the after-parties, anything for you.

    Actually, I will be in the LA area for almost two weeks in February (including our co-sponsored conference on Jewish identity, check it out here), so if you want to chat, drop me a line (estherdalia at yahoo) and we’ll let our people talk to each other. Thanks so much for posting a comment…and I’m sure we’ll talk soon…

  • I am an African American Jew. Maybe you should broaden your horizon a little in your next casting call.

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