Max Greenfield and Ben Feldman Once Starred in a Trippy Passover Movie Called 'When Do We Eat?' – Kveller
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Max Greenfield and Ben Feldman Once Starred in a Trippy Passover Movie Called ‘When Do We Eat?’

The "New Girl" star plays an Orthodox Jew in this quirky 2005 comedy.


Did you know there was a Passover film starring Ben Feldman (“Superstore”) and Max Greenfield (“New Girl”) — who plays an Orthodox Jew — about a Jewish father who accidentally takes ecstasy during a seder and starts to believe that he is, in fact, Moses?

Well, I sure didn’t, at least until earlier this month. Perusing the internet for Passover content, I discovered the 2005 film “When Do We Eat?” titled, of course, after the most important question of the seder. Directed by Salvador Litvak, who you may know as the Accidental Talmudist, the movie tells the story of the dysfunctional Stuckman family seder. The cast is actually kind of amazing — there’s Feldman playing a stoner son in his first big feature film role, before he became iconic as Michael Ginsberg in “Mad Men” and crowd favorite in “Superstore.” Greenfield plays son Ethan who, after getting fired from his job, decided to become observant — predating his role as Schmidt in “New Girl,” the “Judaism, son!” representation is very strong with this one, too.

But that’s hardly all. We have Max Lerner, of “Barton Fink” fame and blessed memory, as family patriarch Ira, a Christmas ornament manufacturer who’s cranky and disapproving of all of his children, except for his daughter Nikki, played by Shiri Appleby, a couple of years after her “Roswell” role of Liz Parker and a decade before starring in “Unreal.” Appleby plays a sex surrogate in this movie and I still can’t decide if it’s good or bad representation of sex work — but one of her clients will be incredibly familiar to “Scandal” fans: Dan Bucatinsky, who plays James Novak.

I would’ve said “dayenu!” after that but there are even more iconic Jewish faces here. Perhaps the most famous one at the time the movie came out, at least with the adolescent crowd, is Adam Lamberg, who plays Lionel, about a year after “The Lizzie McGuire Show,” in which he played Jewish best friend and love interest Gordo, stopped airing. Lamberg plays the youngest Stuckman who is, we are led to believe, autistic and nonverbal. Sufficed to say, the autism representation in this movie would not pass muster today.

Lesley Ann Warren plays the ever suffering matriarch Peggy. Meredith Scott Lynn, before she starred in “Days of Our Lives,” plays daughter Jennifer, and Cynda Williams plays her girlfriend, Grace. Israeli actress Mili Avital plays Peggy’s seductive cousin, Vanessa, a celebrity publicist who has an incestuous affair with Ethan. Jack Klugman, may his memory be a blessing, plays Ira’s own disapproving father. Israeli actor Mark Ivanir (“Away,” “Babylon Berlin”) plays an eye-patched Israeli contractor who build a very luscious and colorful tent for the family seder. His character is… wow.

When it comes to Jewish representation, our Elijah’s cup truly runneth over here. Every single one of these cast members is Jewish, and every one of them has given us a number of amazing and iconic Jewish representation on screen. But the question remains: Is this movie actually good? And is it worth watching?

After watching it, I can honestly answer the first question with… I think not really, objectively speaking, but it kind of depends on your definition of good? But it is absolutely worth watching to see Greenfield affix a mezuzah to a door and chant Jewish blessings. It is also absolutely worth watching for the trippy montages of what appear to be Israelites chanting on psychedelic colorful backgrounds. It is absolutely worth watching for the velvety tent where the family has their seder because now I want a seder in a tent, too? And it is absolutely worth watching for a lot of very small relatable Jewish moments, like Peggy comfort eating macaroons from a can (bring the can back, Manischewitz!) when she has had enough of her family, the way it portrays trying to get matzah on the day of Passover as a brutal endeavor (never try this at home) and other delightful details of cultural Jewish identity.

But, um, other than that, this movie, which is meant to be a quirky, funny and yet somehow still heartwarming tale of a family coming together on Passover, mostly leaves me with lots of questions. For example:

Why does it further the #FakeNews that Jesus’ last supper was a seder?

Is Ben Feldman less believable as a stoner (he is too clean and energetic, despite the 4/20 shirt, the beanie, the seashell bracelet) or is Max Greenfield less believable as a Hasidic Jew (he looks a little bit like he’s wearing a Purim costume, sorry)?

Can Max Greenfield come help me affix my mezuzah?

Is this a new pickup line?

Is Greenfield saying, “Fuck it, I’ll atone on Yom Kippur,” right before he sleeps with his cousin actually the best line in this movie?

Why does the Jewish grandfather look like a character from a Dickens novel? Is this because this is “A Passover Carol” type of situation for Ira?

Why does the Jewish grandfather character’s suitcase that he’s been carrying around the past 60 years look like it was made in the past decade?

Should all kissing scenes pan out to a mezuzah?

Why does Mark Ivanir look like he’s about to lead everyone on a safari adventure?

Why isn’t Mark Ivanir’s character, the token Israeli, quickly reading the Hebrew to help get to the food part? Not believable.

Anyway, the movie has 42% on Rotten Tomatoes. On Letterboxd, one reviewer wrote, “hasidic schmidt, autistic gordo, and drug addict ron laflamme. looking camp right in the eye,” and gave the movie five stars, while another, who gave it zero stars, simply wrote, “Why did I watch this,” not even mustering the energy for a question mark.

I also found myself at certain points asking the same question. But did I also find myself delighted by it? Yes, I will admit, I did. The acting can be very strong, and the Jewish jokes are, well, very haimish.

Either way, the movie is streaming for free on both Freevee and Tubi, so you can decide for yourself. If you’re brave enough.

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