Levinson returns to Baltimore, home of Diner and Tin Men, for this semi-autobiographical voyage into family history. Sam Krichinsky (Müller-Stahl), arriving in America from the Old Country on July 4, 1914, wanders awestruck against a night sky alive with firecrackers. He is joined by his brothers, who acquire jobs, produce children, and reside in a row-house neighbourhood. The sprawling story eventually traces four generations; changing circumstances and wider social influences are reflected in the way family circle meetings give way to internal divisions and personal ambitions. It's a shamelessly sentimental interpretation of history, with television ushering in a generation which has lost the art of communication and the ability to care. Against this blinkered vision, even Levinson's confident direction and ability to capture the absurdities and rhythms of everyday speech fail to provide sufficient compensation.