Remember that scene in Annie Hall that split-screens Annie’s Norman Rockwell family with Alvy’s boisterous clan from Brooklyn? Pushing Jewish clichs well past their stretching points, When Do We Eat? spends an entire seder with a Los Angeles version of the latter. The Stuckmans (Lerner, Warren) have produced a Tevye-size output of screeching stereotypes: businessman-turned-Hasid Ethan (Max Greenfield); misunderstood sex therapist Nikki (Shiri Appleby); endearingly autistic Lionel (Adam Lamberg); and stoner Zeke (Feldman), whose slippage of Ecstasy into Dad’s antacid works wonders for the Haggadah.
That’s to say nothing of the cell-phone-distracted cousin or the paranoid grandfather who keeps worrying aloud about the return of the Nazis. All is innocent enough as long as these cartoons argue about the “world’s fastest seder” or try to stuff horseradish into each other’s mouths. But the film becomes offensive when it turns sincere, most outrageously by suggesting that, in Judaism, having sex with your cousins is a “gray area.” The dramatic developments are all rug-pulling surprises—keep an eye on that autistic kid—and besides, this sort of family therapy would click only if the Stuckmans convinced as real relations to begin with. Those eager to spend this Passover with When Do We Eat? are advised to have their four cups of wine beforehand. (Opens Fri; see Index for venues.)—Ben Kenigsberg